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www.concrete-online.co.uk Music - The End of HMV and the Rise of Vinyl, page 5.

Television - The Return of the Studio Sitcom, page 15.

Arts - Interview: Unthank Books, page 20.

Issue 279 Tuesday 05 February 2013

VENUE

Photo: Whye Tchien Khor


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VENUE CONTENTS

Tuesday 05 February 2013

ISSUE 279

concrete.venue@uea.ac.uk

Editor-in-Chief | Amy Adams Venue Editors | Rachael Lum and Matt Tidby Music | Editors | Hayden East and Sam Warner Music Contributors> Harry Edwards, Ayoola Solarin, Maddie Russell, Larson Campbell, Yasmin Hoy and Hayden East Fashion | Editors | Jess Beech and Lucy Jobber Fashion Contributors> Carla Fletcher, Ella Sharp and Gemma Carter Film | Editors | Kieran Rogers and Andrew Wilkins Film Contributors> Laura Paskell, Joshua Mott, James Lillywhite, Charlotte Flight, Nicole Harmer, Katryna Coak, Chris Teale and Kieran Rogers Television | Editor | Ellissa Chilley Television Contributors> Adam Dawson, Rianna Hudson, Sam Day, Becca Oram and Jane Power Creative Writing | Editor | Matthew Mulcahy Creative Writing Contributors> Holly McDede, Michelle Sewell and Stephen Pester Gaming | Editor | Oliver Balaam Gaming Contributors> Sam Emsley, Tilly Wood and Oliver Balaam Arts | Editor | Hatty Farnham Arts Contributors> Lorna Mackinnon, Joanna Thompson, Callum Graham and Hatty Farnham Competitions/Listings | Editor | Amelia Edwards

From the Editors Greetings and Salutations, Dear Reader! The Concrete Office continues to be an excellent place for our sanity. Living off a diet of show tunes, takeaway pizza and excessively sugary donuts, we are very gradually turning into a single, slobbish journalistic entity. On a brighter note, our unconscious habit of making the Venue cover reflect the seasons continues unabated- it’s SPRING, yeah. Actually, on that note, how the hell did all the UEA rabbits survive the snow? We asked a spokesman, who said they survived “by a hare’s breadth”. Ha. Yep, that happened. We’ve got a lot of fun and fabulous features in Venue this issue- from Beyonce to Mrs. Browns Boys, to Lincoln and lakeside glamour, we hope there’s something for everyone. Thanks to all our editorial staff for their efforts, and thanks to you for picking up a copy. We hope you enjoy it. Regards, Rachael and Matt Photo: Whye Tchien Khor


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MUSIC

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feature

JANUARY: A MONTH IN COMEBACKS

Hayden East traces the comebacks and reformations of the past month

Comebacks: certainly one of the most divisive moves an act can make in their career. Often synonymous with shortlived capitalisation and lacklustre results, the minority of well thought out returns come from the unlikeliest of sources. In 2012, electronica pioneers Orbital released their first album in eight years. Not only did it reassert their relevancy in the age of Skrillex-esque ‘brostep’, it essentially ran circles around their modern-day contemporaries. Still, it didn’t stop the likes of The Cure and New Order from pedalling the same tired setlist around festivals worldwide. It’s with these contrasting takes that we enter 2013, and a month generally considered to be a slow release period. Rather uncharacteristically though, January has seen an impressive and diverse amount of comebacks, each taking slightly different approaches. Justin Timberlake was among the first on the scene with a self-serving video teaser, in which the whispered final remark “I’m ready” was both cringeinducing and buzz-generating in equal measure. The Timberland-produced new single Suit & Tie is solid enough – taking the seductive vibe of Señorita and giving it a new-age expensive sheen – but the promotion didn’t stop there. Even after premiering the track, JT felt it necessary

to hide his album’s release date within a split-second image in a lavish lyric video. As such, his return breathes with a certain over-egged marketing strategy that only a boardroom of major-label hotshots can conceive. When mystery is so forced upon the public, so cheapened by pomp, it becomes difficult to give Justin the welcome he feels entitled to receive. After all, we didn’t miss him that much. Much more successful are the understated comebacks that use ambiguity as a means to promote. So it goes with long-time icon David Bowie, who subtly dropped his first new material in ten years on his birthday with Where Are We Now?, a single that proved as fascinating as his landmark work. Then there’s the album artwork: the original cover of his now-classic 1977 album Heroes obscured by a white box containing the new title The Next Day. It may symbolise “forgetting or obliterating the past” (as designer Jonathon Barnbrook states), but it’s also an oversimplified retort to high-concept comebacks such as Timberlake’s. Of course, critics expected JT to be in good company after the long-awaited reformation of Destiny’s Child promised to be equally elaborate. However, their comeback track Nuclear doesn’t

quite meet the solo crooner’s level of extravagance. Indeed it may not echo the heights of tracks such as Say My Name, but it’s a minimal yet effective revival of the nineties R&B they were instrumental in pioneering. At a time where critically recognised acts such as AlunaGeorge and Jessie Ware are making the genre en vogue again, Beyoncé and co. are playing it smart. However, with only a compilation album planned for release as opposed to entirely new material, the suspicious among us may see this as a nod to monetary motives. Their timing is also coincidentally close to the return of new mother Beyoncé, who found herself caught in a PR fiasco when the authenticity of her supposed live performance at President Obama’s Inauguration was thrown into question. GQ were the first to declare “Beyoncé-gate”, and the singer has since admitted to miming. Regardless, such a high-profile comeback as this (on top of her imminent Superbowl appearance) is testament to one of this generation’s most gifted performers at the pinnacle of her influence. In the words of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper: “It’s Beyoncé’s world, and we’re just living in it.” Then there are the acts that still manage to gain substantial attention without major label backing. For acclaimed

electronica duo The Knife, such attention surfaced simply as a result of their longfelt absence, created by seminal albums such as 2006’s Silent Shout. As a band who are renowned for their lack of media cooperation (their promotional photos almost always feature the duo wearing masks), this is an act who clearly have something new to say, as their upcoming near 100-minute album Shaking The Habitual attests. One of the most surprising announcements to come out of January was the reformation of Death Cab for Cutie side-project The Postal Service. Although the news was delivered modestly – a mere image on a website – theirs draws the most parallels to the comebacks seen in 2012, with plans for only festival dates and small tours. This year will also commemorate the tenth anniversary of their sole album Give Up, placing them in alignment with other one-off reformations like The Cure. With this month’s considerable run of disappointing records – we’re looking at you, Biffy Clyro – the New Year has been duly rescued by some of music’s most reliable acts. With the exception of the token undesirable comeback (Dido, anyone?), never before have reformations been so promising, so varied, and – most importantly – so unforced as these.


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STUMBLING GIANTS AND A VINYL RENAISSANCE

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HMV’s downfall doesn’t spell the end for the physical format, says Harry Edwards

HMV’s collapse came as a shock to few. With digital downloads squeezing upon its margins this cumbersome retail giant was always likely to struggle. However, it cannot be overstated that its problems were far greater than that of changing market forces. When asked by Venue about her experience of HMV, Rosie Yates, an English and History undergraduate, likened it to “entering an electronics shop rather than somewhere to buy music”, a sentiment that is shared by many. Sterile lighting, poor service, staff lacking expertise, a restrictive range; it is no wonder music fans flocked elsewhere. That is all in stark contrast to the experience offered by a group of independent record shops, who are bucking the trend of recent decline, showing there is still a place for physical record stores in 2013. Rough Trade is the prime example of one of these increasingly confident independents. Last financial quarter their two London shops enjoyed an 8% rise in sales, a figure HMV could have only dreamt of. The company is also contemplating expansion on top of the opening of their new shop in New York later this year.

The more personal customer experience offered by Rough Trade is clearly a key reason behind its growth in such a retracting market. From its friendly environment to staff that know and love the music they sell, the store is an immersive place to listen to new music you will have never heard before. It seems that independents are still able to survive and (in the case of Rough Trade) thrive because they can attract a loyal returning customer base that HMV lost over the years. Indeed, with these basic principles they have far more efficiently cornered part of the physical market. Moreover, across all providers there was a shift of 113.2 million physical albums last year, compared to the 26.5 million albums that were downloaded. This shows there is still an appetite for physical music, including one format that actually saw a significant increase in sales: vinyl. New vinyl sales were up for the fifth year running in 2012, generating a 44% increase in sales. Spencer Hickman, who runs Rough Trades acclaimed East London store, noted in an interview with the NME that there is “definitely a move to vinyl”. He continued: “Normal

people and passionate fans are going back to it... there’s a hunger for vinyl that isn’t going anywhere.” Research has also suggested that this surge isn’t simply attributed to a load of geriatrics partaking in an orgy of nostalgia, as a new generation has been seeking out vinyl. The fact that The XX’s recent album Coexist was the most purchased release last year would suggest that this is a truly contemporary phenomenon. Why vinyl though? What is it about it that maintains its enduring appeal to music fans? Physiology undergraduate Peter Kirk told Venue that he prefers listening to vinyl due to the “superior sound quality” and likes “the feeling of physically owning a record rather than having it stored on a hard drive”. These are common (and justified) reasons, though more resentful commentators attribute the resurgence of vinyl to an odious exercise of contemporary hipsterdom. However, most are more positive. Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis (who under the record label arm of the Rough Trade has signed bands such as The Smiths and The Libertines) sees the increased vinyl sales and the resilience

of a number of independents speaking of a fundamental wanting for “a tactile relationship with a musical product”, adding: “We don’t want to live our lives online and be in our bedrooms 24 hours a day”. In a recent Guardian article, John Harris even goes as far to say that the return to vinyl is a “quiet rebellion”, musing whether it could be an “antidote to rampant capitalism.” He is far from the last person to make such claims, especially considering online retailers’ roles in HMV’s collapse. How much momentum the vinyl renaissance has in the long term is yet to be seen. One must bear in mind that vinyl sales still only make up a tiny part of the market, but the increased interest does give hope for those invested in physical music formats. Many in the know still see a place for the record shop in contemporary society: they just have to be smart and tailored to the customers’ needs. Perhaps if HMV (if there is anything left by the time the administrators have finished) could gain some of the personality provided by the independents which keeps them relevant, then maybe there is still a slim hope for this high street giant yet.

Fancy making a playlist? Send your best themed ideas to concrete.online@uea.ac.uk Check out our submissions at concrete-online.co.uk/tag/playlists


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THE JOY FORMIDABLE The Waterfront 23.1.13 Ayoola Solarin No matter how many times you attend The Waterfront, with its shady location, dim lighting and solemn atmosphere, it’s always a surprise that such a place can instantly become jovial and vibrant when the right band comes on, and this is certainly the case when Welsh outfit The Joy Formidable don the stage. Frontwoman, the eternally cheerful Ritzy Bryan, simply oozes charisma

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live review

as she saunters on stage, firstly asking with a cheeky grin if everyone is having a great night. The response is a mixture of enthusiastic “yes’s” and grunted “no’s”, some people clearly not too impressed by the support act We Are Animal, who play a solid yet average set. Ritzy, along with band members Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas waste no time in getting stuck into their set, fittingly starting with the exuberant This Ladder is Ours, the first track on their new album, Wolf ’s Law. The crowd responds immediately, chanting the mantra-like chorus with wild abandon, transfixed by the sight of Ritzy bouncing like a fire cracker across the stage. Within no time at all, a semiserious mosh pit manifests itself at the front, youngsters and older rockers

alike bouncing off each other in time to the rhythm of the hard and fast guitar playing. More subdued fans skirt around the ruckus but never cease their perpetual head banging and feet stamping. The Joy Formidable have always been a small band with a big sound and new tracks like the East Asian influenced Maw Maw Song and hardhitting Cholla are evidence of not only their musical progression after the brilliant album The Big Roar, but also of the fact that they can still manage to create fun and catchy tracks that also have a timeless quality to them. A surprising favourite of the night is slower-paced song The Silent Treatment, a heart-breaking little number that evokes the desire to wave a lighter in the air in memory of relationships past.

The mood soon picks up again as the band blast straight into others songs such as The Everlasting Spectrum of a Lie, constantly keeping the crowd on its toes and the atmosphere buzzing. They finish their set with their most well-known track, Whirring, the performance ending in pure rhythmic noise which is as much applause as ferocious instrument-bashing. It’s a pleasure to see The Joy Formidable garnering the recognition they deserve, performing on shows such as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and doing the festive circuit. They’ll likely soon be playing large arenas to match their stadium-sized sound but hopefully they won’t forget about good old Norwich and will once again grace us with their effervescent presence sometime soon.


MUSIC

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album reviews

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BIFFY CLYRO OPPOSITES Maddie Russell

One day, Simon Neil posed a challenge to his band mates: Biffy Clyro would

LOCAL NATIVES HUMMINGBIRD Larson Campbell

Local Natives have returned with an album that shows growth, development, and a lot of time spent with The National. After touring with the band, they proceeded to work with member Aaron Dessner who assisted in producing, cowriting and performing on Local Natives’ sophomore album. With that influence, the album holds a softer and more subtle approach that hasn’t been seen yet by the L.A based group.

write a double album. Neil conceived the trio’s sixth (and seventh) LPs as a response to the disposable nature of modern music. This was to be an album which would last more than a couple of weeks. Differentiating the sides with titles lifted from Sounds Like Balloons lyrics, the concept of longevity is established: The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones (“it blows on, and on, and on, and on”) and The Land At The End Of Our Toes (“goes on, and on, and on, and on”). The cover art work was created by album art royalty, Storm Thorgerson (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Muse, and Genesis, among others). Everything suggested that Biffy were throwing themselves into the major leagues. The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones contains some pretty dark lyrics; from Different People to Opposites - “Baby,

I’m leaving here / You need to be with someone else” - the motif of leaving and of unspecified trials and tribulations is unrelenting. The band have had some serious problems since the release of their last studio album, Only Revolutions in 2009, and the near end of Biffy seems reflected by the pensive melancholia of these ten tracks. Whilst containing some lovely riffs, Simon’s exquisite pronunciation and interesting lyrics such as “do you want to touch my bulbous head” grace the first side, it is all a bit too similar. You feel it is a double LP for the sake of it, and not for any burning need. While The Land At The End Of Our Toes has a bit more diversity, it is not a dichotomous opposition. There’s more varied percussion and it stays further away from the self-reflection of side one. It edges closer to the experimental

sounds that wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect from a year of intense production, a six month delay on release and what we’d heard in prerelease interviews. It is not, however, an opposite. Spanish Radio stands out for the much needed variation it provides, in the form of a mariachi band and a touch of syncopation. Experimentation has always been the life blood of Biffy Clyro, and it feels a bit as though the task of a double LP and 78 minutes was just a bit too overwhelming. Had this not been a double album then perhaps it could have been something wonderful. But Opposites contains two sides of good, yet similar sounding altrock and guitar anthem tracks, and not, as Ben told the NME when the album was originally announced, “a diverse collection of songs”.

At first listen it might seem a bit of a disappointment. However, given a closer listen the subdued beauty of the album becomes apparent, proving that the album truly is a grower. Compared to their debut album Gorilla Manor, Hummingbird has a distinctly more mature sound with lyrics to match, and definitely shows a progression within the band whilst maintaining their trademark harmonic vocal ability. There aren’t any songs on the record that mimic the undeniably catchy and singalong ability of previous tracks such as Airplanes or Who Knows Who Cares. Wooly Mammoth is the one song that seems to resemble anything heard on Gorilla Manor with punchy instrumentals and swelling vocals. That said, those hoping that Hummingbird would follow suit of their first effort shouldn’t give up yet. Columbia was written after the passing of lead vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s mother last summer and is definitely a stand out song from the album, notably depicting the raw emotion that isn’t overshadowed by any intricate lyrics. Giving it an appropriate chance, listeners will be able to uncover depth on the record and despite lacking tracks that make an immediate impact on first try, Hummingbird as a whole shows development in the band and is definitely worth having a listen.

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND CONDUIT

While previous efforts have hinted at hardcore, Conduit practically screams it. This is FFAF’s heaviest album to date without compensating on big choruses and melodies, and it works best when all this is blended together, such as on tracks Best Friends And Hospital Beds and The Distance, which has one of the catchiest choruses they’ve written for a long time. They have also overcome their tendency to end albums on a slightly lacklustre note - closer High Castles is one of the best tracks on the album. Guitarists Kris Coombs-Roberts and Gavin Burrough are outstanding throughout; whether it’s the sweeppicked solos of Nails or the precise riffing of Death Comes To Us All, this is a guitar duo at the top of their game. Conduit does have some pitfalls; even though frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye delivers his rawest performance yet, lyrics tend to get lost under his grating shouts on tracks like Grey. Also, the short, punchy hardcore elements of the album means it comes in at under half an hour in length, which does leave you slightly longing for more. Many have said that Conduit is a return to their roots and debut, but this isn’t an album that looks back; this is FFAF progressing and sounding tighter than ever, making music that they want to make. While it isn’t perfect, it’s an indication that one of the UK’s finest rock bands are here to stay.

Yasmin Hoy

Whilst their groundbreaking debut album Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation propelled them into the spotlight, Funeral For A Friend have never been able to break free from its shackles; everything they’ve done since has been scrutinised against it, usually unfairly. However, their sixth album Conduit shows a band who are aware of their legacy but don’t rest on their laurels, and they sound as fresh as they did ten years ago.


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SMOKIN’

Riding boots The perfect snow boot alternative

The Easter Bunny These chocolate fellas have even been hitting Vogue.

Mint green nail varnish Perfect transitional shade

CHOKIN’ Hats with beards Is that extra chin warmth really necessary?

Valentines slush Please not in public

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis We’re all for ‘Thrift Store” chic but this fur coat is one step too far.

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Carla Fletcher

concrete.fashion@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

Frosty Nails

It may be unpleasantly chilly as we fight our way through the winter months, and there has been a lot of snow dusting the land recently, but Mother Nature has given inspiration for many artworks and nails are the perfect canvas to incorporate her snow-white gift into fashion. Here are a few steps to show you how to make a simple, yet adorable, snowflake design to accessorise your nails in this chilly weather. You will need a light base colour, Barry M’s mint is being used here, but you can use other shades of light green, blue or pink (any of the pale/pastel colours you’ve got). A clear sparkle/ glitter nail polish for shimmering effect. Then you will need a white nail art deco polish (these are the long thin brush nail polishes to make designs); model own do a nail art pen you can get from Superdrug or Boots for £6, however you can buy them quite cheaply online (or you can try making your own; be resourceful with your liquid eyeliner brush!). You will also need some dotting tool which you can, again, buy online, from beauty stores or you can make

Ella Sharp

FASHION

your own by using a bobby pin or a ball point pen. And finally, of course, your favourite clear top coat. 1. First apply your base coat, making sure to re-apply with these light colour so that they come out looking bolder, and leave to dry (you know the drill). 2. Now, taking your white art deco polish, it’s time to create your snowflake. Form a horizontal line on the nail, anywhere you fancy, followed by an ‘X’ shape with two diagonal lines across your first horizontal line, until it looks a 6 point star. 3. Continuing with the snowflake design, get some paper to apply a drop of white nail polish to use for dotting your nails. Using your dotting tool (or bobby pin/ ball point pen) at the end of each of the lines of your 6 point star dot them. 4. Still using your dotting tools create more dots around your snowflake, all different sizes, to make it appear as if snowflakes are falling from afar. 5. Apply your favourite top coat for keeps.

Put some welly into it

So the snow is gone and the sun appears to be making a somewhat reluctant comeback, but if you’ve already hidden your Hunters to the back of your wardrobe, you might be getting a little too ahead of yourself. If the weather reports are anything to go by, we might be faced with some more flooding, and looking even further into the year, the muddy, grubby festival season will be coming round sooner than you think. Getting to grips with how to wear those unglamorous Wellington boots should be top of your agenda. Socks Everyone’s go-to Wellington accessory should not be under-rated. With any style of welly a fun sock should go hand in hand. Particularly if you sport a plain green boot, a funky pattern adorning your knees banishes the dull and draws attention away from the somewhat unflattering, murky green. You can even whip out the 80’s leg warmers; disguised under boots no one will know the difference! Perfect if you crave some neon in the dark winter night, or brilliant for an eye catching festival look.

Patterned Tights A pair of so called ‘fashion’ tights will do wonders for your drab Wellington boot. Similar to the socks, they will detract from you’re not so fashionable foot attire, and perk up your look tenfold. A thick denier of coloured tights will not only keep you warm, but banish those January blues. If you’re really brave, clash socks with tights, pattern on pattern. Knitted tights are perfect for these chilly months, but looking into the festival season, the funkier

the better; polka dot, pattern, anything that stands out will grab attention. Go Designer If you’re a real designer junkie there’s only one way to go with your Wellington boot: Hunter. If you would fit right in on an episode of Made in Chelsea these preppy (overly expensive) boots shouldn’t go a miss. Their simple design allows for experimentation with socks and tights, but with Hunter’s somewhat upper class reputation, keeping it simple might work for the better; you want people to notice your (maybe only) pair of designer shoes! However, if you’re planning to head to Reading and Leeds or Download festivals this summer, expect to stand out like a sore thumb. Patterned Boots The most fun way to wear a pair of Wellington boots, in my opinion, is to go for a cute, coloured, patterned affair. Polka dots, striped, even laced ones are all readily available on the High Street. Not only do patterned boots look adorable with practically anything (including those aforementioned socks and tights), but they’re a brilliant way to perk up a drab winter day.


FASHION

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Photographer: Chloe Hashemi, Stylist and Model: Imogen Steinberg

Unlocking your Inner Fashionista

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Gemma Carter explores our very own UEA campus catwalk Walking around campus I’m often inspired by outfits, admiring people’s confidence and artistic ability to create fashion masterpieces. Comparing our university campus to the catwalks of the fashion world is something some would think ridiculous, but since being here at UEA, I’ve come to realise that this definitely isn’t the case. The stress of university can be so overwhelming but the one part of my day I always look forward to is choosing my outfit. Our clothes express who we are and how we feel; our wardrobe’s being the key to unlock our inner fashionista. Fashion is an art form and one that is a part of our everyday lives, from the moment in the morning when you throw open your wardrobe doors and delve in to a world made up of different fabrics and colours. Even when you can’t be bothered, you can still reach in and grab your comfiest jumper and seek comfort in your clothing companion. Not everyone is obsessed with the latest fashions, but even then their wardrobe is a

reflection of the person they are - their decision not to follow trends can say just as much as conforming to them. I admire those that don’t alter the person they are just to fit in as there really is nothing wrong with a big, baggy UEA jumper! Clothes and fashion are something which should be enjoyed by everyone and not used to create an elite. This form of artistic expression is wonderful as you can learn a lot about someone from their clothes. It’s the little accessories people wear that intrigue me, those personal touches to an outfit which can say so much. Maybe a unique brooch? Or even a battered up old satchel that’s been around for years? Mine is my silver locket which encased within its shell is a photo of my grandfather, or my owl brooch that I’ve had since I was a little girl. It’s those timeless little gems which can instantly transform an everyday outfit into something special. They tell a story and give an outfit depth, erasing the idea that fashion centres of vanity

and superficial ideals. From the unique to the chic, these varieties of fashions are joys to see around campus. Particularly in the square where throughout the day you see an array of different styles coming and going. This diversity shows why UEA is such a brilliant place to grow and blossom as an individual. Students here aren’t afraid to express themselves through the medium of fashion, ultimately encouraging individuality and the embracement of who you are. Unlike traditional commercial runways, the concrete catwalk of UEA’s campus is one where everyone is able to be themselves. There is no right or wrong and no one is pressured to look a certain way or be a specific type of person. In my opinion I believe that’s how fashion should be, there should be no guidelines to follow which pressure people into changing. Fashion should be a way of representing the person you are and allow you to express yourself, and here at UEA we do just that.


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concrete.film@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

REVIEWS

Perhaps the loudest opposition during the debates on the floor of the House Dir. Steven Spielberg 150mins comes from Fernando Wood (Lee Pace), a Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Democratic Congressman from New York. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones Pace impresses as he manages to convey in his stinging rhetoric, the level of opposition facing the Republicans in attempting to Chris Teale pass the amendment. Nominated for 10 Golden Globes and 12 Meanwhile, as legislators wrestle on Academy Awards, Steven Spielberg’s latest Capitol Hill, Lincoln is also keen to end the epic, Lincoln has been one of the most Civil War and bring the rebel Confederate anticipated films of the year. Starring Daniel states back within the Union. The film Day-Lewis in the lead role, the film follows does well to show the president’s tireless the last four months of the life of American work in trying to convince politicians to President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, as he vote for his amendment while trying to attempts to have the 13th Amendment to negotiate peace with the Confederates at the United States Constitution approved the same time. Support comes in the form by Congress to abolish slavery. of Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy The film does a very effective job of Lee Jones, who plays a crucial role in the recounting what was a traumatic time for struggle against slavery and is a willing the people of the United States, a country assistant to Lincoln on the floor of the ravaged both by the civil war and the House as the final vote on the amendment ongoing debate on whether Lincoln’s 1863 nears. The greatest compliment that can be Emancipation Proclamation to free the paid to Day-Lewis is that he is believable in slaves should be passed. The film opens his role as the 16th president of the United with a gory scene from the battlefield of States, and he is supported well by Sally the Civil war, cutting from this violence to Field, as his wife and First Lady Mary Todd our first sighting of Lincoln as he speaks Lincoln. with several Union soldiers. Already in this The story of Lincoln’s final months as opening scene we see the benevolence of president are well-known, but the ending the president and his affection for those scene of a flashback to his second inaugural African-Americans he is desperate to free. address on the east front of the Capitol However, his task of equality is one fraught building in Washington shows a man who with obstacles, as Secretary of State William wanted to end the civil war, free all slaves H. Seward (David Strargairn) constantly and help the United States move forward reminds him. It is in this context where we together. His achievements are apparent, are introduced to members of the House and the film does a very good job to of Representatives, of whom Lincoln needs depict a dedicated president whose noble to secure 20 Democrat votes to ensure the ambitions to move his country forward passage of his amendment. were cruelly cut short.

LINCOLN (12A)

FILM

ZERO DARK THIRTY(15) Dir. Kathryn Bigelow 157mins Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Laura Paskell Zero Dark Thirty, a film “based on firsthand accounts of real events”, and directed by Kathryn Bigelow (known for The Hurt Locker) is a gritty documentary style account of the arduous and pain-staking struggle to capture Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. The events of the film are relayed to the audience through the C.I.A. agent Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who is plucked from Washington D.C. straight into the midst of the action at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Maya is depicted as a young and brilliant professional whose unrelenting persistence in her quest to bring down Bin Laden physically deteriorates and consumes her. The film is set over the ten-year span from the attacks of 9/11, up to the successful implementation of the operation to locate and kill Bin Laden. One of the first scenes, a no-holds barred,brutal torture sequence, sets the tone for the entirety of the film; a realistic and unabashed depiction of the covert actions of the C.I.A. Bigelow makes a conscious decision to touch upon the controversy surrounding torture by including a clip of Obama’s interview in which he claims “America does not torture”, a statement which hangs over the agents as they interrogate and torture the prisoners. Although the film is not overtly negative in its portrayal of the events, it is possible to interpret the film as an indictment of

the U.S. government and its approach to fighting terrorism. The controversial depiction of the operation is heightened by Maya’s obsessive dedication to the job, a mission that sees her constantly thrown in the path of danger, with the death of her colleagues becoming part of her daily reality. However, instead of allowing the intense pressures to break her down, Maya’s resolve is strengthened in the face of adversity and eventually she is recognised by her superiors as a force to be reckoned with. As an intense and nail-biting political thriller, Zero Dark Thirty draws comparisons to Ben Affleck’s award-winning film Argo. Both films are successful fact-based accounts of monumental achievements in U.S. history. Unlike Argo, however, Bigelow makes almost no attempt to inject Hollywood style drama into her film and, in doing so, protects the integrity of the film and avoids glamourising war. The absence of any form of victory parade allows the audience to debate the actions surrounding the U.S. government. While Bigelow’s decision to veer away from a glamorised depiction of the manhunt had the potential to leave Zero Dark Thirty as a dry documentary, fascinated with an overabundance of facts and figures, it thankfully takes the hunt for Bin Laden as a intensely personal affair. All in all, Jessica Chastain gives a powerful and compelling performance that highlights the haunting reality of covert C.I.A. operations, creating a lingering and lasting impact with the viewer. Without fictionalising or over-dramatizing the true series of events, this film manages to keep the audience riveted right up until the final scene.


FILM

05.02.2013 concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

DJANGO UNCHAINED (18) Dir. Quentin Tarantino 150mins Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson

James Lillywhite Quentin Tarantino’s epic western Django Unchained is released to UK cinemas surrounded by drama. When its US premiere was delayed due to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook, it became embroiled in the debate over film violence. However, when discussed away from the controversy, Django Unchanined reveals itself as another solid release from Tarantino, with a clever script, excellent performances and ambitious scale. Set in 1858, the plot follows freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and bounty hunter Dr Schultz (Christoph Waltz) as they attempt to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from infamous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio). The story moves along with plenty of typical Tarantino flourishes. Episodic subplots of Schulz and Django capturing bounties escalate rapidly into minor chapters in the film, creating that famous fragmented structure that all his films share. Though more subtle than, say, Pulp Fiction in this division, it is clear to see when one arc ends and another begins. However, that is not to say that Tarantino’s latest work is a purely standard affair. Django Unchained is by far the most ambitious work that the director has produced. The wide and barren landscapes as well as the dozens of extras and numerous colourful settings are a far

www.concrete-online.co.uk cry from the gritty warehouse of Reservoir Dogs or the urban streets of Jackie Brown. Although perhaps 30 minutes too long, on the whole, Tarantino deals well with this enlarged scale, managing to successfully combine dialogue-heavy set pieces with wide panning shots of beautiful scenery. Django Unchained is certainly not for the light-hearted. It is a violent movie that deals in extremes, with Django and Schultz consistently expressing their right to murder. The various plantation owners confine their slave workers to horrific conditions, selling them for money and throwing them in gladiatorial-style death matches, often just for amusement. Furthermore, extreme racial language is used throughout. This is no holds barred cinema, so those who are faint of heart are recommended to either brace themselves, or stay away. Of course, as with all Tarantino’s work, the actor’s ability to bring his excellent script to life is vital. The whole ensemble work well, but none more so than Christoph Waltz. In Waltz, Tarantino has found his perfect voice, a man who knows just how to speak “Tarantino”. DiCaprio fares well too, portraying the nefarious Candie with a vile relish. Foxx and Washington also perform admirably, but the supporting cast steal the show here. Tarantino is an extremely divisive filmmaker. While some label his work egotistical and offensive, others find it refreshing and entertaining. With Django Unchained the debate will rage on. Audience experience and opinion will differ wildly both on the controversy surrounding the film and on the filmmaker himself. What can be promised however, is an entertaining, provocative western that marks another strong entry to the already impressive Tarantino filmography.

THE LAST STAND (15)

Dir. Kim Jee-woon 107mins Starring: Anrold Schwarznegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville

Kieran Rogers The Last Stand might quite not be the kick in the face that fans of South Korean director Kim Jee-woon may have feared, but it is an oddity. Part straight-faced drama, part comedic parody, part Call-of-Duty-style shoot ‘em up, and part advert for Chrysler and Chevrolet, it consists of a crowded list of characters and morphs from cop film to Western within its three act structure (though the latter is handled proficiently by a man regarded as a master practitioner of genre). And all this is without mentioning the one reason why this film has made headlines in the West: for the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger (back on screen in a leading role for the first time in ten years). Make no mistake; this is a different Schwarzenegger in front of us in 2013. At 65 years he looks his age, a little bewildered and battle-worn. In The Last Stand this latest incarnation, playing US sheriff Ray Owens, takes on drug cartel Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who has escaped from FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) and seeks security behind the Mexican border. When Cortez has to travel through Owens’ town of Sommerton to reach his destination, Owens recruits his young cadets and some local folk to halt his advances and fend off his henchmen (including Peter Stormare’s Burrell). In fairness, Schwarzenegger tries his best to please and may do enough to satisfy any lingering fans, delivering dud lines with the same old wooden expression – minus

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the politics and the 1980’s homoerotic machismo. For those familiar with Jeewoon’s previous work, however, it may still be bemusing how the director of a film with as much depth as A Bittersweet Life has found himself tackling the “Arnie genre” for his first English language production. Unfortunately, if this is all that Western audiences come to know of him, he’ll never get the recognition he deserves. At its best, The Last Stand is loud, unashamed and mindless. There’s fun to be had in its action scenes because they are handled with bravado, some evoking traces of the ultra-violence Jee-woon is famed for. If it is open to any comparison to Jee-woon’s back catalogue, however, it would be to The Good, The Bad, The Weird (ironically, the three adjectives that best describe this venture), most prominently through Johnny Knoxville’s eccentric Lewis Dinkum, though it’d be delusional to think this gets close to the zany heights of that film. Undoubtedly, many of the problems lie with Andrew Knauer’s formulaic and sometimes gringe-inducing script, which lacks any inventive characterisation. Knauer simply doesn’t do enough, missing an opportunity to fully exasperate the parody and the Schwarzenegger figure. If the film were a fully-fledged comedy, it could’ve had the same cult-hit longevity as Commando. Instead, The Last Stand marks just another stage in the life of transnational cinema, in the collaboration between two of East and West’s cinematic talisman. Whisper it quietly, but you might find some enjoyment in its folly, even if it leaves you wanting to watch I Saw the Devil to remind you of what Jee-woon is truly capable of.


12 NEWS

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FILM

concrete.film@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

J.J. Abrams to direct Episode VII; X-Men sequel to start shooting

Katryna Coak As soon as news broke that Disney had bought the rights to the Star Wars movie franchise, fans begann sniffing around the internet like impatient little Ewoks looking for scraps of info on the upcoming scifi epic. This week those fans were treated to their first glimpse of what Disney has in store for the series with J.J. Abrams now confirmed as director of Star Wars Episode VII. This continues Abrams’ rein as Hollywood’s king of the geeks, by placing yet another iconic sci-fi franchise into this director-cum-producer’s hands. In an interesting act of defiance, Abrams has not yet agreed to stick to the 2015 release date Disney were hoping for, meaning fans may have to wait a while before they can return to their favourite galaxy, far, far away. The upcoming Steve Jobs biopic has also made for some interesting news. After an early viewing during the Sundance Film Festival, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, has criticised the film for an inaccurate portrayal of the entrepreneur’s real life. Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) is shown to be the brains behind the operation, demonstrating that the real relationship of these industry icons, as with any biopic, can only be speculated on screen. Furthermore,

after adopting Steve Jobs’s fruitarian diet in an attempt to get in character for the role, Aston Kutcher was taken to hospital with pancreatic problems. We can only speculate to the problems that Kutcher must have endured after taking over from Charley Sheen last year on Two and a Half Men. After the success of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson is looking to cast Joaquin Phoenix in his latest endeavour, Inherent Vice. Phoenix obviously made an impression upon Anderson during the making of The Master, leading to a role in the adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 1970s Los Angeles based detective novel. Shooting for the next X-Men instalment will begin soon and hints at what is in store have been emerging. With the intriguing title X-Men: Days of Future Past, familiar faces from the franchise such as Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Ellen Page (Shadowcat) as well as the younger and older versions of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr will appear. The question of whether the film will forfeit its successful formula of setting the action in times of real historical change (e.g. The Cold War in X-Men: First Class) for a timetravel plot, in order to showcase an award-

winning cast, remains to be seen. On a less serious note, it has been rumoured that Simon Cowell wishes to make Pudsey: The Movie, based on the dog that won Britain’s Got Talent last year. marking his entrance onto the movie scene. Cowell has always undoubtedly had an eye to make a quick buck on the hopes and dreams of everyday people, but in trying to penetrate the movie world through a performing dog, the TV judge is opening himself up to criticisms of commercialism that could further diminish his already polarised image in the public eye.

FESTIVAL SPECIAL Venue’s overseas correspondent picks out the films making news at this year’s Sundance Film extravaganza

REVIEW: SUNDANCE 2013 (17 - 27 Jan) Joshua Mott Plucked out of UEA and sent packing to the bright lights of America, for an academic adventure unlike any other, Josh Mott is Concrete Film’s Englishman in Philadelphia. Follow his Stateside film musings on his blog, Across the Pond, at: concrete-online.co.uk/acrossthepond Around this time every year, the picturesque towns of Ogden, Provo, and Park City, Utah are invaded by the independent film’s latest and greatest. Started in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival has grown to be a marquee event on the U.S. and international film festival circuit. This year’s line-up has proven to be yet another interesting and varied selection with films ranging from a Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple founder, to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial and writing debut Don Jon’s Addiction, a story about a sex addicted womanizer in search of something more substantial. As well as these, a plethora of fantastic documentaries have also been on display, which would need an article in themselves to cover sufficiently. Kill your Darlings has gained a large amount of buzz, and not just because of

the MTV obsession surrounding Daniel Radcliffe’s gay sex scenes. Radcliffe stars as the renowned beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, as he discovers his sexuality and flair for writing whilst indulging in the bohemian, counterculture lifestyle that he and the other beats established. The film is being widely praised by critics as the best depiction of one of the most notorious and influential 20th century American writers, which could somewhat make up for last year’s rather disappointing adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Other films gaining praise at the festival and being discussed for the Sundance award include Mud and Fruitvale. Mud tells the story of an escaped convict (Mathew McConaughey) who befriends two teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) after they discover him hiding out on an Island in a river. The two boys help him reunite with his estranged girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon) and clear his name. Many of the most respected critics at the festival have described Fruitvale as this year’s break out hit (last year’s being the now Oscar nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild.) Fruitvale follows the true story of Oscar (Michael B. Jordan) and the 24 hours leading up to his shooting at the hands of two BART officers in Oakland, California. Jordan’s performance brought the screening’s

audience to reasonably loud tears by the end of the film’s showing. Fruitvale depicts the story of a far from perfect character trying to get back on track in a refreshingly humanistic and brave manner. Its success here at Sundance suggests it will most likely be a must see when it is released in cinemas later this year. One of the most controversial stories to emerge from the festival involves the wise cracking Transformers star Shia LaBouf and some quite illicit substances. In an interview with MTV about the film The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, in which

Lebouf stars, he stated that in the process of making the film he (and possibly the crew) took LSD in order to prepare themselves and get into character for scenes in which his character was tripping on acid. “You root for it. You don’t show up [on set] completely wasted or completely tripping on acid, but you’re rooting for something and you’re pushing towards it. Everyone’s got their own way,” LeBouf said on the matter. Overall, this year’s selection has been surprisingly good, proving that the festival is here to stay and has not sold out to the power and glamour of nearby Hollywood.


FILM

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WAR ON PRIVACY: Venue assesses the moral complications that now shape celebrity status and privacy Nicole Harmer In a modern world where we share what we have for breakfast and indulge in embarrassing pictures of our drunken mistakes, but are also seemingly unable to truthfully communicate our real thoughts and desires, the question of “how much is too much sharing?” is more prominent than ever. Many artists base their art on their own life experiences which, in turn, can cause their art and life to seemingly blur. Some, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hunter S. Thompson became just as famous for their antics as for their artistic achievements. In the creative world, art and lifestyle are so intrinsically linked it can be hard to know where to draw the line and decide where real life begins. In spite of this artistic ambiguity, do celebrities still have the right for privacy? Jodie Foster’s “coming out” speech, as the press have christened it, raises a number of questions surrounding the nature of celebrity privacy. Her speech itself was rife with paradoxes; she explained she wants a private life but announced this on a public platform, she “reached out” to the gay community without ever actually using the word “gay”. However, these issues aside,

what Foster did was take the power from the press. She declared aspects of her life in the way she desired, on a stage, under the bright lights where art and life blur. She was able to script her speech, perform it in her

own setting and reveal her own vulnerability before the press used the contents of her bin to do it for her. This is not to say that her speech was fake, but that she was able to stay in her comfort zone and continue

to reveal of herself only what she saw fit. Due to the large number of photoshopped images of celebrity perfection that we are exposed to on a daily basis, the press make it their mission to reach out to the public’s insecurity and reveal every secret, spot and sexual scandal. Foster, like every other artist who is good at their job, shares enough of themselves in their art and deserves their own privacy when the lights come down. Sadly, with so many “celebrities” fornicating and fighting with each other for a moment in the spotlight, the press and the public get bored and target those who would like to live discreetly. As Foster herself said, “every celebrity is expected to honour the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime time reality show.” “Celebrity” in a modern society is not just about talent but about branding and lifestyle. It no longer appears to be a choice but is expected as part of the job. Exposure and celebrity scandal has woefully become too large a part of today’s media. Unfortunately, as a result, it is unlikely that those who desire to be left alone will live a camera-free life any time soon.

THE FUTURE OF FILM DISTRIBUTION: What does HMV’s closure mean for the film industry? Charlotte Flight Last month, news broke that the retail company HMV has gone into administration. Within twenty four hours rental store Blockbuster also went into administration calling the future of film distribution into serious question. Are the days of physical ownership numbered? Are Netflix and Lovefilm, with their instant streaming services, taking over the market? Will your DVDs and Blue Rays become as obsolete as your old VHS tapes now are? The answer to each of these questions will probably be yes in the years to come. HMV and Blockbuster failed because they did not adapt to a changing market. When physical copies of film and music are becoming cheaper to buy and rent, both businesses kept their prices premium. As a result the shops became places that one would go in to browse, but never buy anything. Where HMV were selling DVDs for £10, Amazon were selling for less than £5. If the customer wanted the DVD immediately they could go into CEX and buy a second-hand copy for a heavily discounted price. Indeed, it seems business models similar to that of CEX is where the future of high street film distribution lies, as they provide competitive prices similar to online retailers. The necessity to continually lower the price of physical copies of film is due to the increasing dominance of streaming services

to distribution. Parallels can be seen between the introduction of streaming and the introduction of VHS in the 1980s. When VHS was first introduced, film companies were sent into panic; they believed that if people had the ability to watch films in

their homes then nobody would go to the cinema, thereby killing the industry. The film companies have a tendency to forget that a true cinematic experience cannot be gained from anywhere other than a cinema, so they failed to appreciate the potential

increased income to be gained from VHS, seeing only the threats. It took Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986) which, following its massive box office success, became the highest selling VHS in history on pre-orders alone, to convince production companies that VHS was a blessing. Indeed, there has been a similar reaction to the rise of online streaming. Companies are concerned that audiences will stream films illegally, removing the financial impact of home media which has been increasingly relied upon by producers since VHS. However, this argument is short-sighted, once again looking only at the potential negatives. There is now an increasing expectation from the customer to be able to access a product instantly. That is not to say however, that the majority of the audience would voluntarily watch an illegal stream over a better quality alternative from Lovefilm or Netflix. If film companies can efficiently and effectively provide the facility to view films through attractive streaming platforms, then undoubtedly customers will pay for the priviledge. This is not the end of home media by any means - it is simply moving in a different direction. Simply put, HMV and Blockbuster were casualties of a new expectation for instant access, a need that they did not adapt to fill when other companies did.


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The Following

TELEVISION

concrete.television@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

murder, machiavellianism and kevin bacon in the latest us crime drama

Adam Dawson The Following takes the crime drama, gives it a good hard shake then turns it upside down and shakes it some more. It’s not before time too, let’s face it. It couldn’t be in safer hands either. It comes from the brilliant brain of Scream writer Kevin Williamson, and he absolutely doesn’t disappoint. Kevin Bacon (of EE advert horror) leads the cast, playing FBI agent Ryan Hardy. He’s a pretty standard character – a jaded, possibly alcoholic crime fighter who puts away Joe Carroll, a feared serial killer obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. After an escape from jail, Hardy must once again track down Carroll and put him behind bars. This does seem like a used and reused premise and, whilst this does seem slightly tedious, it’s constantly having new life breathed into it at every turn by some very talented actors and a different mystery at its heart. Googling the show tells you that it’s about a serial killer forming a cult of worshippers from his jail cell. There’s not much evidence of that in the pilot, but it’s definitely set up for the rest of the episodes to pick up on. There’s a deep, dark mystery at the heart of the show and, just like the

Africa

FBI team involved, we’re not quite sure what it is yet. What we are made aware of is that this isn’t going to be a whodunit - it tells us almost instantly who the killer is. Instead, the question posed here is “who can you trust?”. It’ll be a joy to watch Carroll pull the strings of the people at his disposal, and even more joyous to find out who they are. With more twists and turns than a country road, you’ll be on edge of your seat the entire time. The script isn’t without flaws though. You have to make some leaps of faith with what may seem like a hollow, contrived plot, like the flawed detective having an affair with the serial killer’s wife. It feels like the show’s jumping up and down whilst shouting “LOOK! THESE GUYS ARE ADVERSARIES!” Hopefully such problems will be ironed out of the show when it comes to the progress of the series proper. With regard to the actual crimes, this isn’t a show for the squeamish - it’s nice to see some real bloody murders on screen instead of just being told how horrific they are. At one point, a young woman has her eyes cut out, and we’re unapologetically shown her corpse afterwards. Grim, yes.

But such dramatic, visceral honesty helps the show defy the tropes of what can be an otherwise dull and formulaic genre. The pilot episode itself feels a little too

long, but it sets up the rest of the series wonderfully. Think of it as a prologue to the main, blood-soaked event. Stay tuned, folks.

a national treasure invites us to share a continent of natural treasures

Rianna Hudson Sir David Attenborough certainly has been a busy man, knocking out three new series for 2013 before February has even begun; Galapagos 3D aired New Year’s Day on Sky1 (and Sky 3D, for those lucky enough to have a 3D telly) with three one-hour episodes; Africa which, now not-misleadingly, documents wildlife in Africa started 2 January on BBC1, and his new (newest) series David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities kicked-off last week, 29 January on the Eden channel. Quite impressive for a gentleman of 86 years old! Most people who frequent the documentary channels will be well aware that flicking through you are guaranteed to come across a documentary about wildlife in Africa, including various footage of a gazelle being hunted and killed by a lion, or a herd of elephants having fun in a watering hole. What Attenborough’s Africa gives us is a very new approach to this vast and beautiful continent thriving with natural wonders. The series gives focus to some of the more unusual aspects of African life, documenting creatures big and

small, capturing never before broadcast animal behaviour, all with cutting-edge technology. Each episode focuses on a different location in Africa, spanning the continent across the Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, and the Sahara; demonstrating the incredible diversity in landscape and wildlife that Africa has to offer. The series boasts some incredible footage, most memorably in the second episode we see a couple of agama lizards braving close proximity with a pride of sleeping lions, jumping around and even on the dozing cats to catch flying insects. In the first episode we see how developments in technology have changed the way that we are able to document wildlife, and through the use of high-tech night vision cameras (which give a picture almost as clear as day) we see the previously unfilmed nocturnal gatherings of the rare black rhinoceros. The series, like many wildlife documentaries of its kind, does not spare the brutality of nature, capturing footage that is sometimes difficult to watch but at the same time entirely fascinating, and only exposing the harsh truth in the survival of the

fittest. The last 10 minutes of each episode concludes with a feature called Eye to Eye which hands over to the film crew who talk about the filming process: struggles with weather conditions, the use of equipment, endurance in getting the right shot, and the emotions that come with filming some of the animal

behaviour they saw. The series has mostly come to an end, with the sixth and final episode titled “The Future” airing Wednesday 6 February, but you can catch-up on the whole series online with iPlayer. Also, did you know there are African penguins? Well, there are.


TELEVISION

05.02.2013 concrete.television@uea.ac.uk

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BACK TO BASICS

Sam Day

The studio-based sitcom is back, and more successful than ever. Why?

Stress, work, deadlines, work, arguments, stress, and more work. Getting home is a relief, and this may be why that when people slouch on the sofa with their cuppas and digestive biccies in front of the telly in 2013, they just want to watch nothing but a sitcom with overt silliness and a laughter track to take their mind off less predictable things. Mrs Brown’s Boys, watched by over 8 million people on New Year’s Day, is one

such completely farcical hit. Frequently stopping to break the fourth wall and turn the air blue, Irish grandma Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) leads a cast of bawdy, ridiculous caricatures, reminiscent of a type of comedy thought long since lost from British TV- it’s like end-of-the-pier Panto. Plots are well-worn but reassuringly familiar- Agnes gets hypnotised, so yelps and prances around like a dog, then begins stripping. Yep. A grandma stripper. Proceeding this every Monday night is a sitcom even more popular: Miranda. Comedian Miranda Hart plays the titular hero, who is constantly singing and dancing her way out of awkward situations with people too serious to understand that she’s just too fun for them. Along with her best friend and Heather Small enthusiast Stevie, she deals with the opposite sex and formal situations like a fish out of water, confiding her insecurities directly to us, like she trusts us completely. Indeed, it would seem such trust is wellfounded. Receiving over 9 million viewers on New Year’s Day, Miranda has exploded in popularity to the extent that Gary Barlow can take time out to make a cameo, just so that Miranda can snog his face off to get back at Stevie for snogging someone

she fancies (also called Gary). However, this doesn’t even seem shocking; Miranda has become such a national treasure that people would willingly queue up to kiss this wonderful woman. Britain adores her, and despite the regularly mortifying nature of the situations she finds herself in, many long to emulate this awkward, childish soand-so. The parallel successes of these shows are far from coincidental. They are both simple studio sitcoms, not afraid of getting cheap laughs from silly, rude behaviour and slapstick comedy. They embrace their identity, and the history of the genre; Miranda ends with all of the characters waving goodbye to the camera, reminiscent of the credits to classics such as Dad’s Army and Are you Being Served?, whilst Agnes Brown turns from character to actor, making jokes out of the fact that they’re all on a television set. In recent times, the trend had been towards more realistic sitcoms like Outnumbered, The Inbetweeners and The Thick of It, who prefer to let us decide when to laugh- but such successes never hit the heights of popularity seemingly being achieved by this studio-based revival. Monday nights on BBC One blow

My Mad Fat Diary

The New Normal

Becca Oram

Jane Power

How can you not be immediately enticed by a programme when the advert shows a guy getting slapped in the face in slowmo, with a sausage? Based on the real-life diaries of Rachel ‘Rae’ Earl, this six-part teen drama revolves around 16-year- old, 16 ½ stone Rae; gaining her first whiff of freedom after a four month stint in a psychiatric ward. Set in 1996, when the Gallagher brothers could still stand to share a stage, there’s a refreshing essence to the 90s soundtrack and the converse clad ‘cool’ gang Rae falls into. In her first major TV role, Sharon Rooney effortlessly captures Rae’s vulnerability after plunging back in to the outside world, while confronting us with her surprisingly rude language and frank openness about music, boys and her quest to…get laid. Typically ‘E4,’ the programme doesn’t wander too far from the adolescent hormone induced humour it’s known for but does fuse this with darker undertones. Tom Bidwell, the writer, manages to achieve equilibrium with snaps of discomfort and moments of light-hearted cringe; the serious issues of self-harm and anxiety tackled with sensitivity and honesty. Some welcome fresh faced acting

talents, notably Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks, Spike Island) as Finn, are paired with more familiar faces like Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone) as her sharp and witty psychiatrist and her eccentric mum played by Claire Rushbrook (Linda Green, Mutual Friends). It’s entertaining, upliftingly relatable and while not ground breaking TV, it’s cleverly humorous, not only exposing the struggles of mental illness but the problems of every average teenager.

As far as marketing goes, The New Normal has been billed as almost ground breaking. Indeed, the show’s proclamation that “abnormal is the new normal” in parenting is in fact an interesting one in terms of social change that I’m sure an academic could talk about much more in depth than I ever could. But what is so ground breaking about The New Normal? The story revolves around two gay men who decided to have a child, the woman who acts as a surrogate, and her grandmother and daughter. Having the lead characters in a show be a gay couple is a bold choice, and an important one in the on going struggle for acceptance of gay parenting in the general public, but it is important to remember that this is not in fact the first show to do so (Modern Family comes to mind). The important question is whether the show is actually any good. It is. Quick camera movements and a fast pace ensure that The New Normal has a very modern feel to it complementing the lack of studio audience or canned laughter. Asides to the camera from random extras give the show a quirky feel and the humour is reminiscent of New Girl. Indeed, there’s no edgy humour here, but it’s not bland

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a raspberry at such sitcoms, bringing back the laughter tracks last enjoyed in the 1980s with the likes of Allo’ Allo’ and The Good Life. These shows are an antidote to ‘now’; the jokes may be cheap, but after that long, hard day, it may be all we can afford.

either. In all The New Normal is a rather funny and unusually sweet sitcom that I am looking forward to seeing more of. The New Normal airs 9pm on Thursdays on E4.


CREATIVE WRITING

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themed submissions

DREAMS

The Boy with no Future

Prophetic Dreams

By Holly McDede

By Stephen Pester

My high school guidance counsellor sees my grade point average, and gags. “I didn’t know grades could be that bad,” she says. She puts my report card under a magnifying glass, hoping the numbers will get bigger. She tries turning my report card upside down, but the numbers still aren’t smiling. She calls my mother, and explains the situation: “I’m sorry, Mrs. Delaware. But we just saw your son’s grades. We’re afraid none of his dreams will come true. He doesn’t have a future. We’ve looked. Several times.” “Not even a little bit of a future?” I hear my mother say. “Not even five seconds?” “School isn’t for everyone,” my guidance counselor says. “Then again, neither is life.” When I drag myself home, there’s a bus in front of my house carrying all my hopes and dreams and an assortment of optional futures: college, arm wrestling champion, drug dealer, the world. The bus driver toots his horn. I check my watch. The future is early; it wasn’t supposed to arrive until later. You just can’t get reliable transportation anymore. I start to run but stop when I see my mother on the back seat of the bus, waving, holding my dreams like they’re her real children. I stop running. I think, What now? Then I watch now explode, letter by letter, n to o to w. Bam, zap, die. It’s gone. Now is dead, and the future has ridden away on a bus. I shrug. Oh well. There is nowhere else to go but home, and back to bed.

Your blurry-edged form Slipped into my sleeping mind But my words stumbled clumsily From me, rambling inelegantly Pushing you away Until I woke.

17

When we will next meet, Flashes of these false memories Will cross through my mind, Mistakes not made – Or not yet As I feel myself stuttering At the thought of the scorn That you never show, I find myself wondering How on earth it is a surprise That I have always been alone.

For the next issue, we are looking Noah By Michelle Sewell Noah, the open-air night club, beats under the gaze of watchful stars. A fresh ocean breeze whispers through a large crowd of 20-somethings pulsating to “nossa, nossa, assim você me mata, ai se eu te pego, ai ai se eu te pego,” echoing across the neverending ocean. In the midnight moonlight a man gravitates towards a body moving amongst the shadows. The man’s hands grasp onto the red silk that covers her waist. Surprised and uncertain, she steps away, making sure to sneak a glance of his cheeky smile and intense gaze. All around is the thumping of the dancing, the sweat of the drunk, the shouts of the excited and the desire of the waiting. Simultaneously they look away. The woman’s heart pounds faster, faster, and louder, louder, shifting the man’s rhythm to hers; and she remains entranced, and held. The waking sun tinges Noah with yellow. The pair still sway, together. The girl feels a tapping at her feet, and sees a sweeper sweeping a ghosted dance floor. They smile and walk arm-in-arm towards the exit. Step. He leaves for Greece tomorrow. Step. She leaves for Morocco tomorrow. Step. He lives in New York. Step. She lives in Sydney. Step. Their eyes redden, puffen, held back tears well-up as they sink into a ripping pain, a silent grief, an unspoken love of irrational emotion. Step. They don’t exchange numbers. They don’t exchange names. They don’t exchange words. They hold but a moment’s glance. They walk towards their separate cabs, to go to sleep and then awake in their separate beds, never knowing if it was real or a wonderful, beautiful dream.

for submissions on the theme of

NATURE

Please submit all writing by

Tuesday 12th February


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@Concrete_Gaming

www.concrete-online.co.uk

GAMING

concrete.gaming@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

Games don’t create killers, they fund them

Oliver Balaam In his post-Sandy Hook press conference, the CEO of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre condemned “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people.” It might sound like a rare moment of self reflection from a usually oblivious cretin but he was actually talking about the video-game industry. He continued by listing “violent video games with names like Bullet Storm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse” before, in a move of blinding hypocrisy, allowing the NRA to release their own first person shooter, NRA Practice Range, for ages four and up. In a move against patient-confidentiality and civil liberty, La Pierre also demanded “a national database of the mentally ill”, presumably for target practice. He did this despite the fact that therapists are already required to report anyone who makes a credible threat, and warn any possible targets. In short, Wayne LaPierre is an old, ableist, culturally-conservative dinosaur. It’s very easy to mock the NRA and their puritanical approach to videogames, but it’s more difficult to come to terms with the fact that, as a game consumer, you’ve almost definitely funded them. There’s a reason that the NRA always criticise the same four or five games, and it’s not because the last time they touched one was in an 80s video arcade. It’s because Grand Theft Auto, Bulletstorm et al don’t pay gun-manufacturers licensing fees, instead they simply invent their own weapons. Call of Duty and Battlefield on the other hand, pay handsome sums to

Tilly Wood

bloody handed arms manufacturers in order to maintain a competitive level of authenticity. “Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price [of the game]”, an arms manufacturer representative recently told Eurogamer. “Video games expose our brand to a young audience who are considered possible future owners.”

Game publishers are decidedly less forthcoming. EA, Sony, Codemasters and Crytek have all repeatedly declined to comment on the practice. An Activision representative declined and added “My hands are tied” while Sega remarked that “[This request] doesn’t sit comfortably.” It’s not just arms manufacturers and the NRA that receive a cut of the billions of

Weapon licensing is so lucrative that firms such as Cybergun, exist predominantly broker deals between content publishers and gun manufacturers. A Cybergun representative once remarked: “We definitely see sales of particular guns increase when they are featured in popular video games, such as Call of Duty.”

dollars spent on modern military shooters each year, war criminals and mercenaries also get theirs. Last year Activision hired Oliver North, a Colonel heavily implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, to consult on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 while EA, chasing Activision’s market share, decided they should consult with private military

contractors. Elsewhere the United States military contractor formerly known as Blackwater (they changed their name to Academi to distance themselves from numerous accusations they later settled out of court) released a Kinect based shooter in order to improve their public image. Unsurprisingly, given the imprecision of motion controlled action games, the game was practically a war crime itself. As game consumers and critics, if we fall into the simple trap of aggressively criticising the NRA, we prove them right in their eyes and in the eyes of lawmakers. We must instead take a self-critical look inwards and do what we can to stop funding gun manufacturers while urging publishers and developers to do the same. These changes can be as simple as using a gun’s model number but not it’s brand name, a practice used by Codemasters to avoid licencing fees in their Operation Flashpoint games. One also hopes that the industry could stop relying on fire-arms as their primary method of interaction and crafts new genres and player perspectives in the process. Given the persistence of the gun as a practical tool even in inventive nonviolent titles like Portal and Anti-Chamber however, this eventuality looks to be a long way off. For the timebeing gamers and publishers needn’t stoop to the level of the sensationalists at the NRA but instead, show that games are a diverse, fast growing, and maturing medium that will outlive their dying, violent world view.

Review: Temple Run 2 Temple Run 2, recently released for free on Android and iOS, is the anticipated sequel to the irritatingly addictive Temple Run. It’s a fast paced, infinite runner game that asks players to steer around a twisted, abandoned temple and a new mine cart track. Along the way the aim is to collect coins and power ups which help boost your score. Thankfully Temple Run 2 hasn’t made any changes to the responsive swipe and tilt mechanisms employed in the last game, which easily allow you to throw your adventurer around corners and over obstacles. Both games offer a choice of different characters. However, unlike its predecessor, Temple Run 2’s four characters impact the game by unlocking different power ups for the player. During each game,

collecting coins fills up the power bar. When it’s full, the player can double tap to take advantage of a speed boost, coin magnet, a shield and more. Temple Run was the perfect game for casual gamers with a minute or two to spare. However, the addition of the new gem currency allows players to spend gems to carry on playing after dying, without returning to the beginning. This means that although the gems are relatively rare, games last longer, and although average player scores are higher, those who can afford to buy gems in bulk from Imangi dominate the high scoreboards. An annoying oversight is that objectives can only be completed when they are displayed as one of your current three.

Therefore you will sometimes be set objectives such as “run 5,000m” although it’s already been achieved. Considering some of the most difficult objectives include “score 10,000,000 points,” it’s something that could use patching. The game’s vastly improved 3D graphics and lighting does result in some texture pop-in, even on high-end devices, and this sometimes makes it difficult to anticipate obstacles in your path, even more so the faster you’re moving. Imangi have been clever to not meddle with the simple design which made their first game a raging success but their improvements to graphics are a welcome upgrade. Despite some issues, Temple Run 2 is still a game that everybody will enjoy.


GAMING

05.02.2013 concrete.gaming@uea.ac.uk

www.concrete-online.co.uk

Preview: Crysis 3

@Concrete_Gaming

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Sam Emsley The Crysis series has always been known for its demanding graphical capabilities rather than its gameplay and with Crysis 3 promising to “melt down PCs”, this trend looks to continue. A multiplayer beta was recently released for both consoles and PC so that players could experience what the new game has to offer in this department, but it’s immediately evident that Crytek should spend more time on gameplay than lighting and motion blur. A few hours with the multiplayer reveals a painfully mediocre experience. There’s a frustrating feeling that something interesting could be achieved with the game’s undeniably solid shooting mechanics if more time had been spent considering map design and game-modes and polishing the unreliable net code. Hunter mode, where underpowered CELL operatives must survive being stalked by invisible, super-powered Hunters, strives for tension but settles for tedium. Every round is a glorified game of hide-and-seek where the CELL operatives retreat to the most obscure corner of the map and camp there, aiming at the doorway for two minutes, or until a Hunter runs through. Anybody

attempting to deviate from this tactic will find themselves swiftly dispatched by the Hunters who, thanks to graphical adjustments since Crysis 2, are now impossible to see. CELL operatives are given a proximity alarm but instead of creating tense scenarios like the proximity sensor scene in Aliens, most of the time it just emits a strained bleep to let you know when you’re going to die. In its current state it is borderline unplayable. Crash Site is a Headquarters inspired game-type where players must capture alien pods that fall onto the map, and hold them to win the game. In design terms this actually works well, however more glaring faults soon emerge. The biggest problem is frame rate lag on PC, which can be atrocious at times. Even running modest specs on a high-end PC the lag is unbearable and this will regularly get you killed. Weapon balancing is also an issue and, coupled with erratic net code, it is almost impossible to anticipate the effect pulling the trigger will have on you or your enemies. Furthermore, the pitiful elbow melee is a one hit kill, which is absurd as you’re lucky to get a one hit kill

Why not volunteer? Each year in February, the UEA Volunteering Fair welcomes between 30 to 40 local charities and not-for-profit organisations who are seeking to recruit student volunteers. Volunteering is becoming increasingly popular, as the skills you learn – such as communication, leadership and time management – can help you in later life, as well as enabling you to make a valuable contribution to society. This year, a diverse mix of organisations will be attending the Fair, which will be held in the LCR, Union House, from 11am-3pm on Tuesday 12 February. The range of exhibitors this year includes those involved in ethical issues; social support; arts and the media; the environment and conservation; legal issues; health; youth work; and education. Some are regular visitors – for example, Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Guide Dogs, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norfolk Scouts, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Railway Children, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). But there are many others too. The Fair is your chance to talk to representatives of the organisations and see how you can make a contribution. You

with a shotgun from the same distance. Environments are also filled with physics objects and makeshift weapons such as cars and lamp posts. In theory these provide entertaining, inventive ways to crush and smite your enemies but in practice they rarely have the desired effect, stopping short of their target or snagging on cluttered geometry. These issues are also present on consoles but as the graphics and physics have been watered down so much to get the game running on these machines, there isn’t even much spectacle to distract from the technical and design deficiencies. The Crysis 3 beta contains a myriad of faults and is a poor attempt at an FPS multiplayer in an already crowded marketplace. There are free to play games that vastly exceed this £40 car-crash. The game looks spectacular, but this does not even begin to make up for the terrible gameplay. The campaign could still be a lot of fun as many of these faults are caused by atrocious net code and unfortunate technical compromises to get the game working online, but the multiplayer simply isn’t worth your time.

Advert

could be helping to manage the charity, dealing with accounts, fundraising or marketing; or you could befriend an elderly person, someone with learning difficulties or children with disabilities. There are also opportunities to work outside in conservation and community gardening schemes, with wildlife or in animal sanctuaries. Education and administrative roles with arts centres, museums and galleries are also available; and supporting refugees and recently arrived migrants is a popular choice. Many organisations offer training; and some have qualifications you can gain while you volunteer. All this experience will be useful later in life and you can be sure that most employers recognise and value volunteering as being equal to paid work experience. In fact, giving up your free time to do some useful work which serves the community says a lot about the type of person you are. All volunteers will be eligible for UEA Volunteer Awards at the end of each academic year. The Union of UEA Students and UEA Volunteers have log books which you can collect once you have started volunteering to record your hours.

Volunteering can be lots of fun, as well as a meaningful way to spend your time. You can meet new people from the local community, form part of a team within the organisation, take responsibility, enjoy new experiences and discover new opportunities in life. Come along and find out more!

To find out more about the Volunteering Fair, visit employability.uea.ac.uk/events. Volunteering opportunities are advertised at employability.uea.ac.uk. Further Careers & Employability information can be found at uea.ac.uk/ careers.


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@concrete_arts

www.concrete-online.co.uk

ARTS

concrete.arts@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

PREVIEW: CABARET: A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS

Hatty Farnham

Chloe Hashemi Next week the drama studio will host this year’s production of Cabaret: A Night at the Musicals. The Cabaret cast have been rehearsing hard alongside their academic commitments for six weeks to bring a night of all-singing, all-dancing musical entertainment to raise money for their chosen charities. “This year it’s all about the kids,” director Jon Cobb tells Venue, “the production will be fundraising for ACODO (Assisting Cambodian

Orphans and the Disabled Organization) and the Elimu foundation.” Both charities are holistic nonprofit organisations which work with children and their communities to support education, health care and shelter. “Cabaret is about making people happy, and it’s a win-win”, says Jon, “it’s an opportunity to make a better world for those who aren’t as fortunate as ourselves, and it provides an evening

of entertainment for our audience in Norwich.” “We enjoy it too!” adds dance choreographer Rachel Moss. The cast is made up of 20 singerdancers and five dancers, and they will be performing a whopping 24 songs on the night. Each year the Cabaret cast keep their programme under wraps, but this year their publicity material is made up of six clues as to the numbers they will be performing on the night.

Intriguing, isn’t it? The performances are at 7.30 on the 14- 16 of February. You can’t buy tickets because it is a charity event, but will be asked to make a donation on the evening. All money raised will go straight to ACODO and the Elimu foundation, and the cast guarantee you will have a fun-filled evening. “Bring your friends, family and loose-change, and we defy you not to sing-along!” says Rachel.

INTERVIEW: Lorna Mackinnon talks to Ashley Stokes, Creative Writing lecturer and head of Unthank Books Lorna: What inspired you to write The Syllabus of Errors? Ashley: No one experience or idea in particular inspired the collection. After I finished my novel Touching the Starfish I worked on a few short stories I’d sketched during the novel’s composition and enjoyed writing pieces I could complete quickly. I certainly wasn’t thinking of a collection, let alone a sequence at this point. After three stories I tried to start a novel but couldn’t get started, so wrote a few more shorts, by which time they started to accumulate. However, the stories were partly inspired by a visit to Berlin; when I was a teenager I’d been obsessed both with the city and the whole history of central Europe between the wars. It was also informed by a feeling that some of the neurotic visions that beset Europe in the

twenties are revisiting us now.

shed novel.

Lorna: Which story in the collection is your favourite, and why?

Lorna: Who are your favourite authors?

Ashley: ‘Abyssinia’ is my favourite. Inspired by Robert Stone’s story ‘Coping’, I wanted to write about someone coming spectacularly off the rails to see if I could bring him back from the brink. If I think about The Syllabus, ‘Abyssinia’ is the story that seems the most indicative to me, the most emotional. I may have come closest here to saying what I mean. Lorna: How has UEA inspired your writing career? Ashley: Teaching evening classes in Adult Ed for five years informed rather than inspired Touching the Starfish, my campus

Ashley: Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Yates, JG Ballard, Kafka, Philip Roth, James Lasdun, Josef Skvorecky, David Foster Wallace, Patricia Highsmith and David Rose. Lorna: Do you have any advice for people who would like to pursue a career in creative writing? Ashley: Write what only you could write. Don’t expect anyone to like you for it. Don’t grow a goatee beard. Talk to strangers. Ignore fashions. Fear the winter. Lorna: How can people become involved with Unthank Books?

Ashley: Unthank Books does have a partnership with the careers service at UEA, so in the first instance, contact Justine Mann if you want to work on marketing a novel or Unthology. Anyone with design or IT ideas should contact the publisher, Robin Jones on information@ unthankbooks.com. Ashley Stokes is a Creative Writing Lecturer for UEA. His latest collection, The Syllabus of Errors, will be available to buy from 14th February. Join us at The Bicycle Shop on Thursday 21st February, from 7.30-9.30pm for the launch. Book signings with the author, hear readings from the book, and meet the Unthank team! For more information, visit www. unthankbooks.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.


ARTS

05.02.2013 concrete.arts@uea.ac.uk

www.concrete-online.co.uk

@concrete_arts

REVIEW:

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ASYE TARY’S SHACKLED Joanna Thompson Shackled is the play that won Ayse Tary the Minotaur creative writing competition last year. She describes it as a play that “doesn’t feel sorry for itself ” which, considering that the protagonist is criminally convicted, terminally ill, and spends almost the entire performance bedridden and chained, initially seems ambitious. The premise doesn’t advertise an uplifting evening but despite its focus on cancer, broken families and incarceration, Shackled manages to be funny. It’s touching, relatable and above all, honest. This play knows better than to romanticise death or treat it flippantly, instead putting the emphasis onto Harry Barker’s character in his last few weeks, and the significance of the people at his bedside. The play opens with Harry Barker and William Rigby on stage and, for the next hour and a half, they barely leave it. Harry (Harry Smith) lies in a hospital bed and William (Michael Clarke) sits a few feet away. The pair seem uncomfortable, but their proximity is unavoidable; handcuffs and a five foot chain connect them. The men fidget, a quiet nervousness unfolding which soon infects the audience and prompts laughter every time awkward eye contact is made and polite (albeit suspicious) smiles are exchanged. Both characters are likeable. Smith plays Harry as a London lad, giving the role realistic maturity as well as a

Jerusha Green

great, boisterous energy. Rigby (Clarke) is the younger and, as Harry points out, he doesn’t really look like a prison guard. Their relationship carries the plot and Clarke and Smith give fantastic performances, maintaining energy in a situation that could easily become static. The bustle of the other characters boosts this pace. Tina Baston plays Harry’s ex-spouse, shepherding in his kids with constant exasperation and a lovely reserved sense of protective affection. Sam Day and Susannah Martin portrayed the children’s ages very convincingly, and the roles of the doctor, nurse and governor (Jonathan Moss, Jess Boyes and Will Berry) were coolly and precisely performed, the characters believable and never overstated. The entire cast and crew were unfalteringly professional, the unexpected power cut during Friday’s show perturbing no one. The play is certainly powerful, a fresh and sincere portrayal of cancer, but it somewhat breezes past Harry’s status as a convict. His crime is never divulged to the audience and any issues of conscience (or resentment of a false accusation) are neglected. There’s a niggling feeling that the handcuffs serve principally as a plot device to justify Rigby’s presence. Regardless, the cast were excellent, the direction was neat and effective and the Cancer Research donation buckets outside were generously met. On leaving the theatre, it felt like a worthy cause and an evening well spent.

Jerusha Green

REVIEW: WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF

Callum Graham

Absurdism, dissolution, illusion, truth and power are all prominent themes brilliantly addressed in the Minotaur Theatre Company’s sharply humorous performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The excellence of the performance was made all the more astounding when co-directors Grace Church and Lucy Mangan admitted that they had only been fully rehearsing for a little over two weeks. All I can say is that something special must have happened during those weeks, as the result was one of those rare occasions when the acting, direction and staging all came together seamlessly for a near-flawless performance. James Franco look-alike and drama student, Ed Jones, gave a slick and stylish take on his character Nick, delighting the audience with a character that was as smarmily smooth as he was driven by ambition. Molly McGeachin received as many laughs as she did tears of sympathy for her heartfelt portrayal of Honey (wife of Nick), a delicate character who seemed to be poised on the verge of a great fall. For many, the success or failure of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf lies in the booze-fuelled relationship of Martha and George, a late-middle aged couple who’s

relentlessly cruel “games” are revealed as a device to hide deeper wounds. On this count, Anna Chessher’s Martha and George Ronayne’s George were perfect. Their tragicomic domestic battles swung violently between hilarity and intensely difficult moments when Martha would seek George’s deepest vulnerabilities and expose them in games such as “Humiliate the Host”. George Ronayne received the loudest laughs with his skilfully sharp comic timing and delivery. Like every character, however, his vices and vulnerabilities were exposed throughout the three acts. As the play came to a close, Ronayne’s George was altogether more human and endearing than the cynically-sarcastic George of the first act. Martha also undertook a similar transformation. From the dominating hostess, captured through Chessher’s impressive stage presence, to her staggeringly emotional performance as the play ended, her skill allowed her to perform both roles convincingly. The drama studio itself had been transformed in the living room of Martha and George, with personal touches and details that made the audience feel as though we were truly were entering into the lives of the characters on stage.


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LISTINGS

www.concrete-online.co.uk

concrete.listings@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

ON CAMPUS

happening this fortnight Christian Union Event Week Tuesday 29 January, 7.30pm

UEA’s Christian Union are proud to present their annual Events week – packed to the brim with music, discussions and waffles. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Christianity, to discuss deeper issues or simply to know what all the fuss was about then this week is for you. Each day from 12-1pm there will be a Waffle Bar held in the Blue Bar. Come for a free waffle and a discussion on Christianity; topics range from “Who is the perfect Christian?” to “What is wrong with the Church?”. Turn up armed with your questions and an open mind for a

discussion guaranteed to make you think. Then, every evening, there will be a host of different events. The week will kick off with an acoustic night, guaranteeing a chilled evening of music interspersed with people’s stories. The midpoint of the week will be an open forum for any and every question; this is no place to hold back. Thursday will be a straight up Gospel talk – do you really know what Christians believe or do you just think you do? And to round the week off, the Friday evening will kick off the start of the Alpha course. Alpha is an introductory course to Christianity; there is food, a short talk and a discussion. There is no pressure or charge. If you’ve given up on God, if you’re bored of the church or if you’re just plain curious then Alpha is for you. Events week will run in week five., with all evening events kicking off at 7.30pm. For more details find the Christian Union on Facebook at facebook.com/ UeaChristianUnion or ring Nathan on 07543484329.

South East Asian Society & Malaysian Society

Chinese New Year Dinner Saturday 9 February, 7pm

The South East Asian Society and Malaysian Society are holding a Chinese New Year event at Congregation Hall 01.19 to welcome in the Year of the Snake. This falls on the Eve of the Spring Festival and coincides with the annual Reunion Dinner. The night will include a huge dinner consisting of traditional home-cooked Chinese dishes and several games afterwards. Chinese New Year is the most

significant cultural festival in the Chinese calendar. It is a time to celebrate new beginnings, happiness, prosperity and good fortune. Tickets cost £10 per person or £88 for a table of 10, and are on sale at the Hive and INTO on Wednesday and Friday (6 and 8 January) from 11am to 3pm. For more details, find the event page on Facebook.

Go Green Week Art Competition Deadline Friday 8 February The Union is calling all creative minded students to get busy painting, filming, photographing, writing and performing for Go Green Week 2013. All competition finalists will have their work exhibited in the union for the duration of Go Green Week. Competition

details are being finalised and prizes tbc. Go Green Week is happening on the 11 - 17 February. To submit your entries, and for all other enquiries, please email union.environment@uea.ac.uk, or you can submit a physical copy of your work to the Student Officer Centre.


LISTINGS

05.02.2013 concrete.listings@uea.ac.uk

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www.concrete-online.co.uk

5 February - 18 February Gigs

Drama and Comedy Theatre

8 February The Kerrang! Tour 2013 feat. Black Veil Brides, Chiodos, Tonight Alive, Fearless Vampire Killers Price £16.50 6.30pm UEA LCR

7 February Schicklgruber alias Adolf Hitler– Manipulate Festival Price £13/£10 Conc. 7.30pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

Frightened Rabbit w/Washington Irving and Wintersleep Price £12.50 6.30pm The Waterfront

8 February To the End of Love – Manipulate Festival Price £13/£10 Conc. 7.30pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

9 February

9 February Big Man Japan – Manipulate Festival Price £7.50/£6 Conc. 9pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

Funeral for a Friend Price £14 6.30pm The Waterfront Little Feat Price £28.50 7pm UEA LCR Modestep Price £12 7.30pm The Waterfront

10 February

11 February

15 February NME Awards Tour 2013 feat. Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets, Peace Price £19.10 7pm UEA LCR 16 February The BIG C presents KILLAMONJAMBO + KEEP IT SECRET + T BONE & THE HORN + THE SEPIATONES Price £5 7pm The Waterfront

Club Nights

Comedy Tom Stade Totally Rocks Price £15.50 8pm The Playhouse

8 February

9 February Katherine Ryan: Nature’s Candy Price £12/£10 Conc. 8pm The Playhouse 14 -15 February Henning Wehn: Henning Knows Best Price £12.50 8pm The Playhouse Jerry Sadowitz Price £18.50 8.30pm Norwich Arts Centre

999 LCR Price £3.50 10pm UEA LCR Non-Stop 90s + ALT 90s Price £4.50/£3.50 NUS 10pm The Waterfront Meltdown + Britpoppin Price £4.50/£3.50 NUS 10pm The Waterfront

Miscellaneous 5 February Lee Child Price £7 7pm UEA Literary Events 8 February

Fast Film, Slow Burn: Uncommon Singularity – Manipulate Festival Price £7/£6 Conc. 7.45pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

9 February

12 February LGBT History Month Presents Dr B.J. Epstein: Let It Out, Boy - LGBTQ Teenagers and Sex in Young Adult Literature Price Free 7pm ARTS 2.02

A List Price £4.50 10pm UEA LCR Traffic Light Party LCR Price £3.50 10pm UEA LCR Meltdown + Metal Lust Price £4.50/£3.50 LCR 10pm The Waterfront

6 February

12 February

16 February

GOT SOMETHING TO TELL UEA ABOUT? If you’ve got a Society or oncampus event that you’d like to share, get in touch: concrete.listings@uea.ac.uk

A List Price £4.50 10pm UEA LCR

16 February

Photo: Virginie Lassarre


COMPETITIONS concrete.competitions@uea.ac.uk

www.concrete-online.co.uk

05.02.2013

the venue crossword 1

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across 4. Western film starring Jamie Foxx (6, 9) 8. Patron Saint of chefs and comedians (8) 11. Subatomic particle with negative charge (8) 13. Performer of American national anthem (7) 16. Often sleepy marsupial (5) 17. Two-headed Roman god (5)

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down 1. Common bird – sometimes excellent navigator (6) 2. Author of The Aeneid (6) 3. World’s smallest country (7,4) 5. Hot drink obtained from seeds (6) 6. The sword in the stone (9) 7. Battle which lent its name to an Olympic event (8) 9. Founder of Wikileaks -Surname (7) 10. Creator of the Famous Five -Surname (6) 12. Combustible rock (4) 13. Soft French cheese (4) 14. Water suspended high in the air (6) 15. Dr Watson’s first name (4)

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www.concrete-online.co.uk Music - The End of HMV and the Rise of Vinyl, page 5.

Television - The Return of the Studio Sitcom, page 15.

Arts - Interview: Unthank Books, page 20.

Issue 279 Tuesday 05 February 2013

VENUE

Photo: Whye Tchien Khor


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www.concrete-online.co.uk

VENUE CONTENTS

Tuesday 05 February 2013

ISSUE 279

concrete.venue@uea.ac.uk

Editor-in-Chief | Amy Adams Venue Editors | Rachael Lum and Matt Tidby Music | Editors | Hayden East and Sam Warner Music Contributors> Harry Edwards, Ayoola Solarin, Maddie Russell, Larson Campbell, Yasmin Hoy and Hayden East Fashion | Editors | Jess Beech and Lucy Jobber Fashion Contributors> Carla Fletcher, Ella Sharp and Gemma Carter Film | Editors | Kieran Rogers and Andrew Wilkins Film Contributors> Laura Paskell, Joshua Mott, James Lillywhite, Charlotte Flight, Nicole Harmer, Katryna Coak, Chris Teale and Kieran Rogers Television | Editor | Ellissa Chilley Television Contributors> Adam Dawson, Rianna Hudson, Sam Day, Becca Oram and Jane Power Creative Writing | Editor | Matthew Mulcahy Creative Writing Contributors> Holly McDede, Michelle Sewell and Stephen Pester Gaming | Editor | Oliver Balaam Gaming Contributors> Sam Emsley, Tilly Wood and Oliver Balaam Arts | Editor | Hatty Farnham Arts Contributors> Lorna Mackinnon, Joanna Thompson, Callum Graham and Hatty Farnham Competitions/Listings | Editor | Amelia Edwards

From the Editors Greetings and Salutations, Dear Reader! The Concrete Office continues to be an excellent place for our sanity. Living off a diet of show tunes, takeaway pizza and excessively sugary donuts, we are very gradually turning into a single, slobbish journalistic entity. On a brighter note, our unconscious habit of making the Venue cover reflect the seasons continues unabated- it’s SPRING, yeah. Actually, on that note, how the hell did all the UEA rabbits survive the snow? We asked a spokesman, who said they survived “by a hare’s breadth”. Ha. Yep, that happened. We’ve got a lot of fun and fabulous features in Venue this issue- from Beyonce to Mrs. Browns Boys, to Lincoln and lakeside glamour, we hope there’s something for everyone. Thanks to all our editorial staff for their efforts, and thanks to you for picking up a copy. We hope you enjoy it. Regards, Rachael and Matt Photo: Whye Tchien Khor


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MUSIC

concrete.music@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

feature

JANUARY: A MONTH IN COMEBACKS

Hayden East traces the comebacks and reformations of the past month

Comebacks: certainly one of the most divisive moves an act can make in their career. Often synonymous with shortlived capitalisation and lacklustre results, the minority of well thought out returns come from the unlikeliest of sources. In 2012, electronica pioneers Orbital released their first album in eight years. Not only did it reassert their relevancy in the age of Skrillex-esque ‘brostep’, it essentially ran circles around their modern-day contemporaries. Still, it didn’t stop the likes of The Cure and New Order from pedalling the same tired setlist around festivals worldwide. It’s with these contrasting takes that we enter 2013, and a month generally considered to be a slow release period. Rather uncharacteristically though, January has seen an impressive and diverse amount of comebacks, each taking slightly different approaches. Justin Timberlake was among the first on the scene with a self-serving video teaser, in which the whispered final remark “I’m ready” was both cringeinducing and buzz-generating in equal measure. The Timberland-produced new single Suit & Tie is solid enough – taking the seductive vibe of Señorita and giving it a new-age expensive sheen – but the promotion didn’t stop there. Even after premiering the track, JT felt it necessary

to hide his album’s release date within a split-second image in a lavish lyric video. As such, his return breathes with a certain over-egged marketing strategy that only a boardroom of major-label hotshots can conceive. When mystery is so forced upon the public, so cheapened by pomp, it becomes difficult to give Justin the welcome he feels entitled to receive. After all, we didn’t miss him that much. Much more successful are the understated comebacks that use ambiguity as a means to promote. So it goes with long-time icon David Bowie, who subtly dropped his first new material in ten years on his birthday with Where Are We Now?, a single that proved as fascinating as his landmark work. Then there’s the album artwork: the original cover of his now-classic 1977 album Heroes obscured by a white box containing the new title The Next Day. It may symbolise “forgetting or obliterating the past” (as designer Jonathon Barnbrook states), but it’s also an oversimplified retort to high-concept comebacks such as Timberlake’s. Of course, critics expected JT to be in good company after the long-awaited reformation of Destiny’s Child promised to be equally elaborate. However, their comeback track Nuclear doesn’t

quite meet the solo crooner’s level of extravagance. Indeed it may not echo the heights of tracks such as Say My Name, but it’s a minimal yet effective revival of the nineties R&B they were instrumental in pioneering. At a time where critically recognised acts such as AlunaGeorge and Jessie Ware are making the genre en vogue again, Beyoncé and co. are playing it smart. However, with only a compilation album planned for release as opposed to entirely new material, the suspicious among us may see this as a nod to monetary motives. Their timing is also coincidentally close to the return of new mother Beyoncé, who found herself caught in a PR fiasco when the authenticity of her supposed live performance at President Obama’s Inauguration was thrown into question. GQ were the first to declare “Beyoncé-gate”, and the singer has since admitted to miming. Regardless, such a high-profile comeback as this (on top of her imminent Superbowl appearance) is testament to one of this generation’s most gifted performers at the pinnacle of her influence. In the words of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper: “It’s Beyoncé’s world, and we’re just living in it.” Then there are the acts that still manage to gain substantial attention without major label backing. For acclaimed

electronica duo The Knife, such attention surfaced simply as a result of their longfelt absence, created by seminal albums such as 2006’s Silent Shout. As a band who are renowned for their lack of media cooperation (their promotional photos almost always feature the duo wearing masks), this is an act who clearly have something new to say, as their upcoming near 100-minute album Shaking The Habitual attests. One of the most surprising announcements to come out of January was the reformation of Death Cab for Cutie side-project The Postal Service. Although the news was delivered modestly – a mere image on a website – theirs draws the most parallels to the comebacks seen in 2012, with plans for only festival dates and small tours. This year will also commemorate the tenth anniversary of their sole album Give Up, placing them in alignment with other one-off reformations like The Cure. With this month’s considerable run of disappointing records – we’re looking at you, Biffy Clyro – the New Year has been duly rescued by some of music’s most reliable acts. With the exception of the token undesirable comeback (Dido, anyone?), never before have reformations been so promising, so varied, and – most importantly – so unforced as these.


MUSIC

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feature

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STUMBLING GIANTS AND A VINYL RENAISSANCE

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HMV’s downfall doesn’t spell the end for the physical format, says Harry Edwards

HMV’s collapse came as a shock to few. With digital downloads squeezing upon its margins this cumbersome retail giant was always likely to struggle. However, it cannot be overstated that its problems were far greater than that of changing market forces. When asked by Venue about her experience of HMV, Rosie Yates, an English and History undergraduate, likened it to “entering an electronics shop rather than somewhere to buy music”, a sentiment that is shared by many. Sterile lighting, poor service, staff lacking expertise, a restrictive range; it is no wonder music fans flocked elsewhere. That is all in stark contrast to the experience offered by a group of independent record shops, who are bucking the trend of recent decline, showing there is still a place for physical record stores in 2013. Rough Trade is the prime example of one of these increasingly confident independents. Last financial quarter their two London shops enjoyed an 8% rise in sales, a figure HMV could have only dreamt of. The company is also contemplating expansion on top of the opening of their new shop in New York later this year.

The more personal customer experience offered by Rough Trade is clearly a key reason behind its growth in such a retracting market. From its friendly environment to staff that know and love the music they sell, the store is an immersive place to listen to new music you will have never heard before. It seems that independents are still able to survive and (in the case of Rough Trade) thrive because they can attract a loyal returning customer base that HMV lost over the years. Indeed, with these basic principles they have far more efficiently cornered part of the physical market. Moreover, across all providers there was a shift of 113.2 million physical albums last year, compared to the 26.5 million albums that were downloaded. This shows there is still an appetite for physical music, including one format that actually saw a significant increase in sales: vinyl. New vinyl sales were up for the fifth year running in 2012, generating a 44% increase in sales. Spencer Hickman, who runs Rough Trades acclaimed East London store, noted in an interview with the NME that there is “definitely a move to vinyl”. He continued: “Normal

people and passionate fans are going back to it... there’s a hunger for vinyl that isn’t going anywhere.” Research has also suggested that this surge isn’t simply attributed to a load of geriatrics partaking in an orgy of nostalgia, as a new generation has been seeking out vinyl. The fact that The XX’s recent album Coexist was the most purchased release last year would suggest that this is a truly contemporary phenomenon. Why vinyl though? What is it about it that maintains its enduring appeal to music fans? Physiology undergraduate Peter Kirk told Venue that he prefers listening to vinyl due to the “superior sound quality” and likes “the feeling of physically owning a record rather than having it stored on a hard drive”. These are common (and justified) reasons, though more resentful commentators attribute the resurgence of vinyl to an odious exercise of contemporary hipsterdom. However, most are more positive. Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis (who under the record label arm of the Rough Trade has signed bands such as The Smiths and The Libertines) sees the increased vinyl sales and the resilience

of a number of independents speaking of a fundamental wanting for “a tactile relationship with a musical product”, adding: “We don’t want to live our lives online and be in our bedrooms 24 hours a day”. In a recent Guardian article, John Harris even goes as far to say that the return to vinyl is a “quiet rebellion”, musing whether it could be an “antidote to rampant capitalism.” He is far from the last person to make such claims, especially considering online retailers’ roles in HMV’s collapse. How much momentum the vinyl renaissance has in the long term is yet to be seen. One must bear in mind that vinyl sales still only make up a tiny part of the market, but the increased interest does give hope for those invested in physical music formats. Many in the know still see a place for the record shop in contemporary society: they just have to be smart and tailored to the customers’ needs. Perhaps if HMV (if there is anything left by the time the administrators have finished) could gain some of the personality provided by the independents which keeps them relevant, then maybe there is still a slim hope for this high street giant yet.

Fancy making a playlist? Send your best themed ideas to concrete.online@uea.ac.uk Check out our submissions at concrete-online.co.uk/tag/playlists


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THE JOY FORMIDABLE The Waterfront 23.1.13 Ayoola Solarin No matter how many times you attend The Waterfront, with its shady location, dim lighting and solemn atmosphere, it’s always a surprise that such a place can instantly become jovial and vibrant when the right band comes on, and this is certainly the case when Welsh outfit The Joy Formidable don the stage. Frontwoman, the eternally cheerful Ritzy Bryan, simply oozes charisma

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MUSIC

concrete.music@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

live review

as she saunters on stage, firstly asking with a cheeky grin if everyone is having a great night. The response is a mixture of enthusiastic “yes’s” and grunted “no’s”, some people clearly not too impressed by the support act We Are Animal, who play a solid yet average set. Ritzy, along with band members Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas waste no time in getting stuck into their set, fittingly starting with the exuberant This Ladder is Ours, the first track on their new album, Wolf ’s Law. The crowd responds immediately, chanting the mantra-like chorus with wild abandon, transfixed by the sight of Ritzy bouncing like a fire cracker across the stage. Within no time at all, a semiserious mosh pit manifests itself at the front, youngsters and older rockers

alike bouncing off each other in time to the rhythm of the hard and fast guitar playing. More subdued fans skirt around the ruckus but never cease their perpetual head banging and feet stamping. The Joy Formidable have always been a small band with a big sound and new tracks like the East Asian influenced Maw Maw Song and hardhitting Cholla are evidence of not only their musical progression after the brilliant album The Big Roar, but also of the fact that they can still manage to create fun and catchy tracks that also have a timeless quality to them. A surprising favourite of the night is slower-paced song The Silent Treatment, a heart-breaking little number that evokes the desire to wave a lighter in the air in memory of relationships past.

The mood soon picks up again as the band blast straight into others songs such as The Everlasting Spectrum of a Lie, constantly keeping the crowd on its toes and the atmosphere buzzing. They finish their set with their most well-known track, Whirring, the performance ending in pure rhythmic noise which is as much applause as ferocious instrument-bashing. It’s a pleasure to see The Joy Formidable garnering the recognition they deserve, performing on shows such as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and doing the festive circuit. They’ll likely soon be playing large arenas to match their stadium-sized sound but hopefully they won’t forget about good old Norwich and will once again grace us with their effervescent presence sometime soon.


MUSIC

05.02.2013 concrete.music@uea.ac.uk

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album reviews

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BIFFY CLYRO OPPOSITES Maddie Russell

One day, Simon Neil posed a challenge to his band mates: Biffy Clyro would

LOCAL NATIVES HUMMINGBIRD Larson Campbell

Local Natives have returned with an album that shows growth, development, and a lot of time spent with The National. After touring with the band, they proceeded to work with member Aaron Dessner who assisted in producing, cowriting and performing on Local Natives’ sophomore album. With that influence, the album holds a softer and more subtle approach that hasn’t been seen yet by the L.A based group.

write a double album. Neil conceived the trio’s sixth (and seventh) LPs as a response to the disposable nature of modern music. This was to be an album which would last more than a couple of weeks. Differentiating the sides with titles lifted from Sounds Like Balloons lyrics, the concept of longevity is established: The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones (“it blows on, and on, and on, and on”) and The Land At The End Of Our Toes (“goes on, and on, and on, and on”). The cover art work was created by album art royalty, Storm Thorgerson (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Muse, and Genesis, among others). Everything suggested that Biffy were throwing themselves into the major leagues. The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones contains some pretty dark lyrics; from Different People to Opposites - “Baby,

I’m leaving here / You need to be with someone else” - the motif of leaving and of unspecified trials and tribulations is unrelenting. The band have had some serious problems since the release of their last studio album, Only Revolutions in 2009, and the near end of Biffy seems reflected by the pensive melancholia of these ten tracks. Whilst containing some lovely riffs, Simon’s exquisite pronunciation and interesting lyrics such as “do you want to touch my bulbous head” grace the first side, it is all a bit too similar. You feel it is a double LP for the sake of it, and not for any burning need. While The Land At The End Of Our Toes has a bit more diversity, it is not a dichotomous opposition. There’s more varied percussion and it stays further away from the self-reflection of side one. It edges closer to the experimental

sounds that wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect from a year of intense production, a six month delay on release and what we’d heard in prerelease interviews. It is not, however, an opposite. Spanish Radio stands out for the much needed variation it provides, in the form of a mariachi band and a touch of syncopation. Experimentation has always been the life blood of Biffy Clyro, and it feels a bit as though the task of a double LP and 78 minutes was just a bit too overwhelming. Had this not been a double album then perhaps it could have been something wonderful. But Opposites contains two sides of good, yet similar sounding altrock and guitar anthem tracks, and not, as Ben told the NME when the album was originally announced, “a diverse collection of songs”.

At first listen it might seem a bit of a disappointment. However, given a closer listen the subdued beauty of the album becomes apparent, proving that the album truly is a grower. Compared to their debut album Gorilla Manor, Hummingbird has a distinctly more mature sound with lyrics to match, and definitely shows a progression within the band whilst maintaining their trademark harmonic vocal ability. There aren’t any songs on the record that mimic the undeniably catchy and singalong ability of previous tracks such as Airplanes or Who Knows Who Cares. Wooly Mammoth is the one song that seems to resemble anything heard on Gorilla Manor with punchy instrumentals and swelling vocals. That said, those hoping that Hummingbird would follow suit of their first effort shouldn’t give up yet. Columbia was written after the passing of lead vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s mother last summer and is definitely a stand out song from the album, notably depicting the raw emotion that isn’t overshadowed by any intricate lyrics. Giving it an appropriate chance, listeners will be able to uncover depth on the record and despite lacking tracks that make an immediate impact on first try, Hummingbird as a whole shows development in the band and is definitely worth having a listen.

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND CONDUIT

While previous efforts have hinted at hardcore, Conduit practically screams it. This is FFAF’s heaviest album to date without compensating on big choruses and melodies, and it works best when all this is blended together, such as on tracks Best Friends And Hospital Beds and The Distance, which has one of the catchiest choruses they’ve written for a long time. They have also overcome their tendency to end albums on a slightly lacklustre note - closer High Castles is one of the best tracks on the album. Guitarists Kris Coombs-Roberts and Gavin Burrough are outstanding throughout; whether it’s the sweeppicked solos of Nails or the precise riffing of Death Comes To Us All, this is a guitar duo at the top of their game. Conduit does have some pitfalls; even though frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye delivers his rawest performance yet, lyrics tend to get lost under his grating shouts on tracks like Grey. Also, the short, punchy hardcore elements of the album means it comes in at under half an hour in length, which does leave you slightly longing for more. Many have said that Conduit is a return to their roots and debut, but this isn’t an album that looks back; this is FFAF progressing and sounding tighter than ever, making music that they want to make. While it isn’t perfect, it’s an indication that one of the UK’s finest rock bands are here to stay.

Yasmin Hoy

Whilst their groundbreaking debut album Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation propelled them into the spotlight, Funeral For A Friend have never been able to break free from its shackles; everything they’ve done since has been scrutinised against it, usually unfairly. However, their sixth album Conduit shows a band who are aware of their legacy but don’t rest on their laurels, and they sound as fresh as they did ten years ago.


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SMOKIN’

Riding boots The perfect snow boot alternative

The Easter Bunny These chocolate fellas have even been hitting Vogue.

Mint green nail varnish Perfect transitional shade

CHOKIN’ Hats with beards Is that extra chin warmth really necessary?

Valentines slush Please not in public

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis We’re all for ‘Thrift Store” chic but this fur coat is one step too far.

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Carla Fletcher

concrete.fashion@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

Frosty Nails

It may be unpleasantly chilly as we fight our way through the winter months, and there has been a lot of snow dusting the land recently, but Mother Nature has given inspiration for many artworks and nails are the perfect canvas to incorporate her snow-white gift into fashion. Here are a few steps to show you how to make a simple, yet adorable, snowflake design to accessorise your nails in this chilly weather. You will need a light base colour, Barry M’s mint is being used here, but you can use other shades of light green, blue or pink (any of the pale/pastel colours you’ve got). A clear sparkle/ glitter nail polish for shimmering effect. Then you will need a white nail art deco polish (these are the long thin brush nail polishes to make designs); model own do a nail art pen you can get from Superdrug or Boots for £6, however you can buy them quite cheaply online (or you can try making your own; be resourceful with your liquid eyeliner brush!). You will also need some dotting tool which you can, again, buy online, from beauty stores or you can make

Ella Sharp

FASHION

your own by using a bobby pin or a ball point pen. And finally, of course, your favourite clear top coat. 1. First apply your base coat, making sure to re-apply with these light colour so that they come out looking bolder, and leave to dry (you know the drill). 2. Now, taking your white art deco polish, it’s time to create your snowflake. Form a horizontal line on the nail, anywhere you fancy, followed by an ‘X’ shape with two diagonal lines across your first horizontal line, until it looks a 6 point star. 3. Continuing with the snowflake design, get some paper to apply a drop of white nail polish to use for dotting your nails. Using your dotting tool (or bobby pin/ ball point pen) at the end of each of the lines of your 6 point star dot them. 4. Still using your dotting tools create more dots around your snowflake, all different sizes, to make it appear as if snowflakes are falling from afar. 5. Apply your favourite top coat for keeps.

Put some welly into it

So the snow is gone and the sun appears to be making a somewhat reluctant comeback, but if you’ve already hidden your Hunters to the back of your wardrobe, you might be getting a little too ahead of yourself. If the weather reports are anything to go by, we might be faced with some more flooding, and looking even further into the year, the muddy, grubby festival season will be coming round sooner than you think. Getting to grips with how to wear those unglamorous Wellington boots should be top of your agenda. Socks Everyone’s go-to Wellington accessory should not be under-rated. With any style of welly a fun sock should go hand in hand. Particularly if you sport a plain green boot, a funky pattern adorning your knees banishes the dull and draws attention away from the somewhat unflattering, murky green. You can even whip out the 80’s leg warmers; disguised under boots no one will know the difference! Perfect if you crave some neon in the dark winter night, or brilliant for an eye catching festival look.

Patterned Tights A pair of so called ‘fashion’ tights will do wonders for your drab Wellington boot. Similar to the socks, they will detract from you’re not so fashionable foot attire, and perk up your look tenfold. A thick denier of coloured tights will not only keep you warm, but banish those January blues. If you’re really brave, clash socks with tights, pattern on pattern. Knitted tights are perfect for these chilly months, but looking into the festival season, the funkier

the better; polka dot, pattern, anything that stands out will grab attention. Go Designer If you’re a real designer junkie there’s only one way to go with your Wellington boot: Hunter. If you would fit right in on an episode of Made in Chelsea these preppy (overly expensive) boots shouldn’t go a miss. Their simple design allows for experimentation with socks and tights, but with Hunter’s somewhat upper class reputation, keeping it simple might work for the better; you want people to notice your (maybe only) pair of designer shoes! However, if you’re planning to head to Reading and Leeds or Download festivals this summer, expect to stand out like a sore thumb. Patterned Boots The most fun way to wear a pair of Wellington boots, in my opinion, is to go for a cute, coloured, patterned affair. Polka dots, striped, even laced ones are all readily available on the High Street. Not only do patterned boots look adorable with practically anything (including those aforementioned socks and tights), but they’re a brilliant way to perk up a drab winter day.


FASHION

05.02.2013 concrete.fashion@uea.ac.uk

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Photographer: Chloe Hashemi, Stylist and Model: Imogen Steinberg

Unlocking your Inner Fashionista

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Gemma Carter explores our very own UEA campus catwalk Walking around campus I’m often inspired by outfits, admiring people’s confidence and artistic ability to create fashion masterpieces. Comparing our university campus to the catwalks of the fashion world is something some would think ridiculous, but since being here at UEA, I’ve come to realise that this definitely isn’t the case. The stress of university can be so overwhelming but the one part of my day I always look forward to is choosing my outfit. Our clothes express who we are and how we feel; our wardrobe’s being the key to unlock our inner fashionista. Fashion is an art form and one that is a part of our everyday lives, from the moment in the morning when you throw open your wardrobe doors and delve in to a world made up of different fabrics and colours. Even when you can’t be bothered, you can still reach in and grab your comfiest jumper and seek comfort in your clothing companion. Not everyone is obsessed with the latest fashions, but even then their wardrobe is a

reflection of the person they are - their decision not to follow trends can say just as much as conforming to them. I admire those that don’t alter the person they are just to fit in as there really is nothing wrong with a big, baggy UEA jumper! Clothes and fashion are something which should be enjoyed by everyone and not used to create an elite. This form of artistic expression is wonderful as you can learn a lot about someone from their clothes. It’s the little accessories people wear that intrigue me, those personal touches to an outfit which can say so much. Maybe a unique brooch? Or even a battered up old satchel that’s been around for years? Mine is my silver locket which encased within its shell is a photo of my grandfather, or my owl brooch that I’ve had since I was a little girl. It’s those timeless little gems which can instantly transform an everyday outfit into something special. They tell a story and give an outfit depth, erasing the idea that fashion centres of vanity

and superficial ideals. From the unique to the chic, these varieties of fashions are joys to see around campus. Particularly in the square where throughout the day you see an array of different styles coming and going. This diversity shows why UEA is such a brilliant place to grow and blossom as an individual. Students here aren’t afraid to express themselves through the medium of fashion, ultimately encouraging individuality and the embracement of who you are. Unlike traditional commercial runways, the concrete catwalk of UEA’s campus is one where everyone is able to be themselves. There is no right or wrong and no one is pressured to look a certain way or be a specific type of person. In my opinion I believe that’s how fashion should be, there should be no guidelines to follow which pressure people into changing. Fashion should be a way of representing the person you are and allow you to express yourself, and here at UEA we do just that.


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concrete.film@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

REVIEWS

Perhaps the loudest opposition during the debates on the floor of the House Dir. Steven Spielberg 150mins comes from Fernando Wood (Lee Pace), a Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Democratic Congressman from New York. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones Pace impresses as he manages to convey in his stinging rhetoric, the level of opposition facing the Republicans in attempting to Chris Teale pass the amendment. Nominated for 10 Golden Globes and 12 Meanwhile, as legislators wrestle on Academy Awards, Steven Spielberg’s latest Capitol Hill, Lincoln is also keen to end the epic, Lincoln has been one of the most Civil War and bring the rebel Confederate anticipated films of the year. Starring Daniel states back within the Union. The film Day-Lewis in the lead role, the film follows does well to show the president’s tireless the last four months of the life of American work in trying to convince politicians to President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, as he vote for his amendment while trying to attempts to have the 13th Amendment to negotiate peace with the Confederates at the United States Constitution approved the same time. Support comes in the form by Congress to abolish slavery. of Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy The film does a very effective job of Lee Jones, who plays a crucial role in the recounting what was a traumatic time for struggle against slavery and is a willing the people of the United States, a country assistant to Lincoln on the floor of the ravaged both by the civil war and the House as the final vote on the amendment ongoing debate on whether Lincoln’s 1863 nears. The greatest compliment that can be Emancipation Proclamation to free the paid to Day-Lewis is that he is believable in slaves should be passed. The film opens his role as the 16th president of the United with a gory scene from the battlefield of States, and he is supported well by Sally the Civil war, cutting from this violence to Field, as his wife and First Lady Mary Todd our first sighting of Lincoln as he speaks Lincoln. with several Union soldiers. Already in this The story of Lincoln’s final months as opening scene we see the benevolence of president are well-known, but the ending the president and his affection for those scene of a flashback to his second inaugural African-Americans he is desperate to free. address on the east front of the Capitol However, his task of equality is one fraught building in Washington shows a man who with obstacles, as Secretary of State William wanted to end the civil war, free all slaves H. Seward (David Strargairn) constantly and help the United States move forward reminds him. It is in this context where we together. His achievements are apparent, are introduced to members of the House and the film does a very good job to of Representatives, of whom Lincoln needs depict a dedicated president whose noble to secure 20 Democrat votes to ensure the ambitions to move his country forward passage of his amendment. were cruelly cut short.

LINCOLN (12A)

FILM

ZERO DARK THIRTY(15) Dir. Kathryn Bigelow 157mins Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Laura Paskell Zero Dark Thirty, a film “based on firsthand accounts of real events”, and directed by Kathryn Bigelow (known for The Hurt Locker) is a gritty documentary style account of the arduous and pain-staking struggle to capture Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. The events of the film are relayed to the audience through the C.I.A. agent Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who is plucked from Washington D.C. straight into the midst of the action at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Maya is depicted as a young and brilliant professional whose unrelenting persistence in her quest to bring down Bin Laden physically deteriorates and consumes her. The film is set over the ten-year span from the attacks of 9/11, up to the successful implementation of the operation to locate and kill Bin Laden. One of the first scenes, a no-holds barred,brutal torture sequence, sets the tone for the entirety of the film; a realistic and unabashed depiction of the covert actions of the C.I.A. Bigelow makes a conscious decision to touch upon the controversy surrounding torture by including a clip of Obama’s interview in which he claims “America does not torture”, a statement which hangs over the agents as they interrogate and torture the prisoners. Although the film is not overtly negative in its portrayal of the events, it is possible to interpret the film as an indictment of

the U.S. government and its approach to fighting terrorism. The controversial depiction of the operation is heightened by Maya’s obsessive dedication to the job, a mission that sees her constantly thrown in the path of danger, with the death of her colleagues becoming part of her daily reality. However, instead of allowing the intense pressures to break her down, Maya’s resolve is strengthened in the face of adversity and eventually she is recognised by her superiors as a force to be reckoned with. As an intense and nail-biting political thriller, Zero Dark Thirty draws comparisons to Ben Affleck’s award-winning film Argo. Both films are successful fact-based accounts of monumental achievements in U.S. history. Unlike Argo, however, Bigelow makes almost no attempt to inject Hollywood style drama into her film and, in doing so, protects the integrity of the film and avoids glamourising war. The absence of any form of victory parade allows the audience to debate the actions surrounding the U.S. government. While Bigelow’s decision to veer away from a glamorised depiction of the manhunt had the potential to leave Zero Dark Thirty as a dry documentary, fascinated with an overabundance of facts and figures, it thankfully takes the hunt for Bin Laden as a intensely personal affair. All in all, Jessica Chastain gives a powerful and compelling performance that highlights the haunting reality of covert C.I.A. operations, creating a lingering and lasting impact with the viewer. Without fictionalising or over-dramatizing the true series of events, this film manages to keep the audience riveted right up until the final scene.


FILM

05.02.2013 concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

DJANGO UNCHAINED (18) Dir. Quentin Tarantino 150mins Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson

James Lillywhite Quentin Tarantino’s epic western Django Unchained is released to UK cinemas surrounded by drama. When its US premiere was delayed due to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook, it became embroiled in the debate over film violence. However, when discussed away from the controversy, Django Unchanined reveals itself as another solid release from Tarantino, with a clever script, excellent performances and ambitious scale. Set in 1858, the plot follows freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and bounty hunter Dr Schultz (Christoph Waltz) as they attempt to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from infamous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio). The story moves along with plenty of typical Tarantino flourishes. Episodic subplots of Schulz and Django capturing bounties escalate rapidly into minor chapters in the film, creating that famous fragmented structure that all his films share. Though more subtle than, say, Pulp Fiction in this division, it is clear to see when one arc ends and another begins. However, that is not to say that Tarantino’s latest work is a purely standard affair. Django Unchained is by far the most ambitious work that the director has produced. The wide and barren landscapes as well as the dozens of extras and numerous colourful settings are a far

www.concrete-online.co.uk cry from the gritty warehouse of Reservoir Dogs or the urban streets of Jackie Brown. Although perhaps 30 minutes too long, on the whole, Tarantino deals well with this enlarged scale, managing to successfully combine dialogue-heavy set pieces with wide panning shots of beautiful scenery. Django Unchained is certainly not for the light-hearted. It is a violent movie that deals in extremes, with Django and Schultz consistently expressing their right to murder. The various plantation owners confine their slave workers to horrific conditions, selling them for money and throwing them in gladiatorial-style death matches, often just for amusement. Furthermore, extreme racial language is used throughout. This is no holds barred cinema, so those who are faint of heart are recommended to either brace themselves, or stay away. Of course, as with all Tarantino’s work, the actor’s ability to bring his excellent script to life is vital. The whole ensemble work well, but none more so than Christoph Waltz. In Waltz, Tarantino has found his perfect voice, a man who knows just how to speak “Tarantino”. DiCaprio fares well too, portraying the nefarious Candie with a vile relish. Foxx and Washington also perform admirably, but the supporting cast steal the show here. Tarantino is an extremely divisive filmmaker. While some label his work egotistical and offensive, others find it refreshing and entertaining. With Django Unchained the debate will rage on. Audience experience and opinion will differ wildly both on the controversy surrounding the film and on the filmmaker himself. What can be promised however, is an entertaining, provocative western that marks another strong entry to the already impressive Tarantino filmography.

THE LAST STAND (15)

Dir. Kim Jee-woon 107mins Starring: Anrold Schwarznegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville

Kieran Rogers The Last Stand might quite not be the kick in the face that fans of South Korean director Kim Jee-woon may have feared, but it is an oddity. Part straight-faced drama, part comedic parody, part Call-of-Duty-style shoot ‘em up, and part advert for Chrysler and Chevrolet, it consists of a crowded list of characters and morphs from cop film to Western within its three act structure (though the latter is handled proficiently by a man regarded as a master practitioner of genre). And all this is without mentioning the one reason why this film has made headlines in the West: for the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger (back on screen in a leading role for the first time in ten years). Make no mistake; this is a different Schwarzenegger in front of us in 2013. At 65 years he looks his age, a little bewildered and battle-worn. In The Last Stand this latest incarnation, playing US sheriff Ray Owens, takes on drug cartel Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who has escaped from FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) and seeks security behind the Mexican border. When Cortez has to travel through Owens’ town of Sommerton to reach his destination, Owens recruits his young cadets and some local folk to halt his advances and fend off his henchmen (including Peter Stormare’s Burrell). In fairness, Schwarzenegger tries his best to please and may do enough to satisfy any lingering fans, delivering dud lines with the same old wooden expression – minus

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the politics and the 1980’s homoerotic machismo. For those familiar with Jeewoon’s previous work, however, it may still be bemusing how the director of a film with as much depth as A Bittersweet Life has found himself tackling the “Arnie genre” for his first English language production. Unfortunately, if this is all that Western audiences come to know of him, he’ll never get the recognition he deserves. At its best, The Last Stand is loud, unashamed and mindless. There’s fun to be had in its action scenes because they are handled with bravado, some evoking traces of the ultra-violence Jee-woon is famed for. If it is open to any comparison to Jee-woon’s back catalogue, however, it would be to The Good, The Bad, The Weird (ironically, the three adjectives that best describe this venture), most prominently through Johnny Knoxville’s eccentric Lewis Dinkum, though it’d be delusional to think this gets close to the zany heights of that film. Undoubtedly, many of the problems lie with Andrew Knauer’s formulaic and sometimes gringe-inducing script, which lacks any inventive characterisation. Knauer simply doesn’t do enough, missing an opportunity to fully exasperate the parody and the Schwarzenegger figure. If the film were a fully-fledged comedy, it could’ve had the same cult-hit longevity as Commando. Instead, The Last Stand marks just another stage in the life of transnational cinema, in the collaboration between two of East and West’s cinematic talisman. Whisper it quietly, but you might find some enjoyment in its folly, even if it leaves you wanting to watch I Saw the Devil to remind you of what Jee-woon is truly capable of.


12 NEWS

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FILM

concrete.film@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

J.J. Abrams to direct Episode VII; X-Men sequel to start shooting

Katryna Coak As soon as news broke that Disney had bought the rights to the Star Wars movie franchise, fans begann sniffing around the internet like impatient little Ewoks looking for scraps of info on the upcoming scifi epic. This week those fans were treated to their first glimpse of what Disney has in store for the series with J.J. Abrams now confirmed as director of Star Wars Episode VII. This continues Abrams’ rein as Hollywood’s king of the geeks, by placing yet another iconic sci-fi franchise into this director-cum-producer’s hands. In an interesting act of defiance, Abrams has not yet agreed to stick to the 2015 release date Disney were hoping for, meaning fans may have to wait a while before they can return to their favourite galaxy, far, far away. The upcoming Steve Jobs biopic has also made for some interesting news. After an early viewing during the Sundance Film Festival, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, has criticised the film for an inaccurate portrayal of the entrepreneur’s real life. Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) is shown to be the brains behind the operation, demonstrating that the real relationship of these industry icons, as with any biopic, can only be speculated on screen. Furthermore,

after adopting Steve Jobs’s fruitarian diet in an attempt to get in character for the role, Aston Kutcher was taken to hospital with pancreatic problems. We can only speculate to the problems that Kutcher must have endured after taking over from Charley Sheen last year on Two and a Half Men. After the success of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson is looking to cast Joaquin Phoenix in his latest endeavour, Inherent Vice. Phoenix obviously made an impression upon Anderson during the making of The Master, leading to a role in the adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 1970s Los Angeles based detective novel. Shooting for the next X-Men instalment will begin soon and hints at what is in store have been emerging. With the intriguing title X-Men: Days of Future Past, familiar faces from the franchise such as Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Ellen Page (Shadowcat) as well as the younger and older versions of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr will appear. The question of whether the film will forfeit its successful formula of setting the action in times of real historical change (e.g. The Cold War in X-Men: First Class) for a timetravel plot, in order to showcase an award-

winning cast, remains to be seen. On a less serious note, it has been rumoured that Simon Cowell wishes to make Pudsey: The Movie, based on the dog that won Britain’s Got Talent last year. marking his entrance onto the movie scene. Cowell has always undoubtedly had an eye to make a quick buck on the hopes and dreams of everyday people, but in trying to penetrate the movie world through a performing dog, the TV judge is opening himself up to criticisms of commercialism that could further diminish his already polarised image in the public eye.

FESTIVAL SPECIAL Venue’s overseas correspondent picks out the films making news at this year’s Sundance Film extravaganza

REVIEW: SUNDANCE 2013 (17 - 27 Jan) Joshua Mott Plucked out of UEA and sent packing to the bright lights of America, for an academic adventure unlike any other, Josh Mott is Concrete Film’s Englishman in Philadelphia. Follow his Stateside film musings on his blog, Across the Pond, at: concrete-online.co.uk/acrossthepond Around this time every year, the picturesque towns of Ogden, Provo, and Park City, Utah are invaded by the independent film’s latest and greatest. Started in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival has grown to be a marquee event on the U.S. and international film festival circuit. This year’s line-up has proven to be yet another interesting and varied selection with films ranging from a Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple founder, to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial and writing debut Don Jon’s Addiction, a story about a sex addicted womanizer in search of something more substantial. As well as these, a plethora of fantastic documentaries have also been on display, which would need an article in themselves to cover sufficiently. Kill your Darlings has gained a large amount of buzz, and not just because of

the MTV obsession surrounding Daniel Radcliffe’s gay sex scenes. Radcliffe stars as the renowned beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, as he discovers his sexuality and flair for writing whilst indulging in the bohemian, counterculture lifestyle that he and the other beats established. The film is being widely praised by critics as the best depiction of one of the most notorious and influential 20th century American writers, which could somewhat make up for last year’s rather disappointing adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Other films gaining praise at the festival and being discussed for the Sundance award include Mud and Fruitvale. Mud tells the story of an escaped convict (Mathew McConaughey) who befriends two teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) after they discover him hiding out on an Island in a river. The two boys help him reunite with his estranged girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon) and clear his name. Many of the most respected critics at the festival have described Fruitvale as this year’s break out hit (last year’s being the now Oscar nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild.) Fruitvale follows the true story of Oscar (Michael B. Jordan) and the 24 hours leading up to his shooting at the hands of two BART officers in Oakland, California. Jordan’s performance brought the screening’s

audience to reasonably loud tears by the end of the film’s showing. Fruitvale depicts the story of a far from perfect character trying to get back on track in a refreshingly humanistic and brave manner. Its success here at Sundance suggests it will most likely be a must see when it is released in cinemas later this year. One of the most controversial stories to emerge from the festival involves the wise cracking Transformers star Shia LaBouf and some quite illicit substances. In an interview with MTV about the film The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, in which

Lebouf stars, he stated that in the process of making the film he (and possibly the crew) took LSD in order to prepare themselves and get into character for scenes in which his character was tripping on acid. “You root for it. You don’t show up [on set] completely wasted or completely tripping on acid, but you’re rooting for something and you’re pushing towards it. Everyone’s got their own way,” LeBouf said on the matter. Overall, this year’s selection has been surprisingly good, proving that the festival is here to stay and has not sold out to the power and glamour of nearby Hollywood.


FILM

05.02.2013 concrete.film@uea.ac.uk

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WAR ON PRIVACY: Venue assesses the moral complications that now shape celebrity status and privacy Nicole Harmer In a modern world where we share what we have for breakfast and indulge in embarrassing pictures of our drunken mistakes, but are also seemingly unable to truthfully communicate our real thoughts and desires, the question of “how much is too much sharing?” is more prominent than ever. Many artists base their art on their own life experiences which, in turn, can cause their art and life to seemingly blur. Some, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hunter S. Thompson became just as famous for their antics as for their artistic achievements. In the creative world, art and lifestyle are so intrinsically linked it can be hard to know where to draw the line and decide where real life begins. In spite of this artistic ambiguity, do celebrities still have the right for privacy? Jodie Foster’s “coming out” speech, as the press have christened it, raises a number of questions surrounding the nature of celebrity privacy. Her speech itself was rife with paradoxes; she explained she wants a private life but announced this on a public platform, she “reached out” to the gay community without ever actually using the word “gay”. However, these issues aside,

what Foster did was take the power from the press. She declared aspects of her life in the way she desired, on a stage, under the bright lights where art and life blur. She was able to script her speech, perform it in her

own setting and reveal her own vulnerability before the press used the contents of her bin to do it for her. This is not to say that her speech was fake, but that she was able to stay in her comfort zone and continue

to reveal of herself only what she saw fit. Due to the large number of photoshopped images of celebrity perfection that we are exposed to on a daily basis, the press make it their mission to reach out to the public’s insecurity and reveal every secret, spot and sexual scandal. Foster, like every other artist who is good at their job, shares enough of themselves in their art and deserves their own privacy when the lights come down. Sadly, with so many “celebrities” fornicating and fighting with each other for a moment in the spotlight, the press and the public get bored and target those who would like to live discreetly. As Foster herself said, “every celebrity is expected to honour the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime time reality show.” “Celebrity” in a modern society is not just about talent but about branding and lifestyle. It no longer appears to be a choice but is expected as part of the job. Exposure and celebrity scandal has woefully become too large a part of today’s media. Unfortunately, as a result, it is unlikely that those who desire to be left alone will live a camera-free life any time soon.

THE FUTURE OF FILM DISTRIBUTION: What does HMV’s closure mean for the film industry? Charlotte Flight Last month, news broke that the retail company HMV has gone into administration. Within twenty four hours rental store Blockbuster also went into administration calling the future of film distribution into serious question. Are the days of physical ownership numbered? Are Netflix and Lovefilm, with their instant streaming services, taking over the market? Will your DVDs and Blue Rays become as obsolete as your old VHS tapes now are? The answer to each of these questions will probably be yes in the years to come. HMV and Blockbuster failed because they did not adapt to a changing market. When physical copies of film and music are becoming cheaper to buy and rent, both businesses kept their prices premium. As a result the shops became places that one would go in to browse, but never buy anything. Where HMV were selling DVDs for £10, Amazon were selling for less than £5. If the customer wanted the DVD immediately they could go into CEX and buy a second-hand copy for a heavily discounted price. Indeed, it seems business models similar to that of CEX is where the future of high street film distribution lies, as they provide competitive prices similar to online retailers. The necessity to continually lower the price of physical copies of film is due to the increasing dominance of streaming services

to distribution. Parallels can be seen between the introduction of streaming and the introduction of VHS in the 1980s. When VHS was first introduced, film companies were sent into panic; they believed that if people had the ability to watch films in

their homes then nobody would go to the cinema, thereby killing the industry. The film companies have a tendency to forget that a true cinematic experience cannot be gained from anywhere other than a cinema, so they failed to appreciate the potential

increased income to be gained from VHS, seeing only the threats. It took Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986) which, following its massive box office success, became the highest selling VHS in history on pre-orders alone, to convince production companies that VHS was a blessing. Indeed, there has been a similar reaction to the rise of online streaming. Companies are concerned that audiences will stream films illegally, removing the financial impact of home media which has been increasingly relied upon by producers since VHS. However, this argument is short-sighted, once again looking only at the potential negatives. There is now an increasing expectation from the customer to be able to access a product instantly. That is not to say however, that the majority of the audience would voluntarily watch an illegal stream over a better quality alternative from Lovefilm or Netflix. If film companies can efficiently and effectively provide the facility to view films through attractive streaming platforms, then undoubtedly customers will pay for the priviledge. This is not the end of home media by any means - it is simply moving in a different direction. Simply put, HMV and Blockbuster were casualties of a new expectation for instant access, a need that they did not adapt to fill when other companies did.


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The Following

TELEVISION

concrete.television@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

murder, machiavellianism and kevin bacon in the latest us crime drama

Adam Dawson The Following takes the crime drama, gives it a good hard shake then turns it upside down and shakes it some more. It’s not before time too, let’s face it. It couldn’t be in safer hands either. It comes from the brilliant brain of Scream writer Kevin Williamson, and he absolutely doesn’t disappoint. Kevin Bacon (of EE advert horror) leads the cast, playing FBI agent Ryan Hardy. He’s a pretty standard character – a jaded, possibly alcoholic crime fighter who puts away Joe Carroll, a feared serial killer obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. After an escape from jail, Hardy must once again track down Carroll and put him behind bars. This does seem like a used and reused premise and, whilst this does seem slightly tedious, it’s constantly having new life breathed into it at every turn by some very talented actors and a different mystery at its heart. Googling the show tells you that it’s about a serial killer forming a cult of worshippers from his jail cell. There’s not much evidence of that in the pilot, but it’s definitely set up for the rest of the episodes to pick up on. There’s a deep, dark mystery at the heart of the show and, just like the

Africa

FBI team involved, we’re not quite sure what it is yet. What we are made aware of is that this isn’t going to be a whodunit - it tells us almost instantly who the killer is. Instead, the question posed here is “who can you trust?”. It’ll be a joy to watch Carroll pull the strings of the people at his disposal, and even more joyous to find out who they are. With more twists and turns than a country road, you’ll be on edge of your seat the entire time. The script isn’t without flaws though. You have to make some leaps of faith with what may seem like a hollow, contrived plot, like the flawed detective having an affair with the serial killer’s wife. It feels like the show’s jumping up and down whilst shouting “LOOK! THESE GUYS ARE ADVERSARIES!” Hopefully such problems will be ironed out of the show when it comes to the progress of the series proper. With regard to the actual crimes, this isn’t a show for the squeamish - it’s nice to see some real bloody murders on screen instead of just being told how horrific they are. At one point, a young woman has her eyes cut out, and we’re unapologetically shown her corpse afterwards. Grim, yes.

But such dramatic, visceral honesty helps the show defy the tropes of what can be an otherwise dull and formulaic genre. The pilot episode itself feels a little too

long, but it sets up the rest of the series wonderfully. Think of it as a prologue to the main, blood-soaked event. Stay tuned, folks.

a national treasure invites us to share a continent of natural treasures

Rianna Hudson Sir David Attenborough certainly has been a busy man, knocking out three new series for 2013 before February has even begun; Galapagos 3D aired New Year’s Day on Sky1 (and Sky 3D, for those lucky enough to have a 3D telly) with three one-hour episodes; Africa which, now not-misleadingly, documents wildlife in Africa started 2 January on BBC1, and his new (newest) series David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities kicked-off last week, 29 January on the Eden channel. Quite impressive for a gentleman of 86 years old! Most people who frequent the documentary channels will be well aware that flicking through you are guaranteed to come across a documentary about wildlife in Africa, including various footage of a gazelle being hunted and killed by a lion, or a herd of elephants having fun in a watering hole. What Attenborough’s Africa gives us is a very new approach to this vast and beautiful continent thriving with natural wonders. The series gives focus to some of the more unusual aspects of African life, documenting creatures big and

small, capturing never before broadcast animal behaviour, all with cutting-edge technology. Each episode focuses on a different location in Africa, spanning the continent across the Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, and the Sahara; demonstrating the incredible diversity in landscape and wildlife that Africa has to offer. The series boasts some incredible footage, most memorably in the second episode we see a couple of agama lizards braving close proximity with a pride of sleeping lions, jumping around and even on the dozing cats to catch flying insects. In the first episode we see how developments in technology have changed the way that we are able to document wildlife, and through the use of high-tech night vision cameras (which give a picture almost as clear as day) we see the previously unfilmed nocturnal gatherings of the rare black rhinoceros. The series, like many wildlife documentaries of its kind, does not spare the brutality of nature, capturing footage that is sometimes difficult to watch but at the same time entirely fascinating, and only exposing the harsh truth in the survival of the

fittest. The last 10 minutes of each episode concludes with a feature called Eye to Eye which hands over to the film crew who talk about the filming process: struggles with weather conditions, the use of equipment, endurance in getting the right shot, and the emotions that come with filming some of the animal

behaviour they saw. The series has mostly come to an end, with the sixth and final episode titled “The Future” airing Wednesday 6 February, but you can catch-up on the whole series online with iPlayer. Also, did you know there are African penguins? Well, there are.


TELEVISION

05.02.2013 concrete.television@uea.ac.uk

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BACK TO BASICS

Sam Day

The studio-based sitcom is back, and more successful than ever. Why?

Stress, work, deadlines, work, arguments, stress, and more work. Getting home is a relief, and this may be why that when people slouch on the sofa with their cuppas and digestive biccies in front of the telly in 2013, they just want to watch nothing but a sitcom with overt silliness and a laughter track to take their mind off less predictable things. Mrs Brown’s Boys, watched by over 8 million people on New Year’s Day, is one

such completely farcical hit. Frequently stopping to break the fourth wall and turn the air blue, Irish grandma Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) leads a cast of bawdy, ridiculous caricatures, reminiscent of a type of comedy thought long since lost from British TV- it’s like end-of-the-pier Panto. Plots are well-worn but reassuringly familiar- Agnes gets hypnotised, so yelps and prances around like a dog, then begins stripping. Yep. A grandma stripper. Proceeding this every Monday night is a sitcom even more popular: Miranda. Comedian Miranda Hart plays the titular hero, who is constantly singing and dancing her way out of awkward situations with people too serious to understand that she’s just too fun for them. Along with her best friend and Heather Small enthusiast Stevie, she deals with the opposite sex and formal situations like a fish out of water, confiding her insecurities directly to us, like she trusts us completely. Indeed, it would seem such trust is wellfounded. Receiving over 9 million viewers on New Year’s Day, Miranda has exploded in popularity to the extent that Gary Barlow can take time out to make a cameo, just so that Miranda can snog his face off to get back at Stevie for snogging someone

she fancies (also called Gary). However, this doesn’t even seem shocking; Miranda has become such a national treasure that people would willingly queue up to kiss this wonderful woman. Britain adores her, and despite the regularly mortifying nature of the situations she finds herself in, many long to emulate this awkward, childish soand-so. The parallel successes of these shows are far from coincidental. They are both simple studio sitcoms, not afraid of getting cheap laughs from silly, rude behaviour and slapstick comedy. They embrace their identity, and the history of the genre; Miranda ends with all of the characters waving goodbye to the camera, reminiscent of the credits to classics such as Dad’s Army and Are you Being Served?, whilst Agnes Brown turns from character to actor, making jokes out of the fact that they’re all on a television set. In recent times, the trend had been towards more realistic sitcoms like Outnumbered, The Inbetweeners and The Thick of It, who prefer to let us decide when to laugh- but such successes never hit the heights of popularity seemingly being achieved by this studio-based revival. Monday nights on BBC One blow

My Mad Fat Diary

The New Normal

Becca Oram

Jane Power

How can you not be immediately enticed by a programme when the advert shows a guy getting slapped in the face in slowmo, with a sausage? Based on the real-life diaries of Rachel ‘Rae’ Earl, this six-part teen drama revolves around 16-year- old, 16 ½ stone Rae; gaining her first whiff of freedom after a four month stint in a psychiatric ward. Set in 1996, when the Gallagher brothers could still stand to share a stage, there’s a refreshing essence to the 90s soundtrack and the converse clad ‘cool’ gang Rae falls into. In her first major TV role, Sharon Rooney effortlessly captures Rae’s vulnerability after plunging back in to the outside world, while confronting us with her surprisingly rude language and frank openness about music, boys and her quest to…get laid. Typically ‘E4,’ the programme doesn’t wander too far from the adolescent hormone induced humour it’s known for but does fuse this with darker undertones. Tom Bidwell, the writer, manages to achieve equilibrium with snaps of discomfort and moments of light-hearted cringe; the serious issues of self-harm and anxiety tackled with sensitivity and honesty. Some welcome fresh faced acting

talents, notably Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks, Spike Island) as Finn, are paired with more familiar faces like Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone) as her sharp and witty psychiatrist and her eccentric mum played by Claire Rushbrook (Linda Green, Mutual Friends). It’s entertaining, upliftingly relatable and while not ground breaking TV, it’s cleverly humorous, not only exposing the struggles of mental illness but the problems of every average teenager.

As far as marketing goes, The New Normal has been billed as almost ground breaking. Indeed, the show’s proclamation that “abnormal is the new normal” in parenting is in fact an interesting one in terms of social change that I’m sure an academic could talk about much more in depth than I ever could. But what is so ground breaking about The New Normal? The story revolves around two gay men who decided to have a child, the woman who acts as a surrogate, and her grandmother and daughter. Having the lead characters in a show be a gay couple is a bold choice, and an important one in the on going struggle for acceptance of gay parenting in the general public, but it is important to remember that this is not in fact the first show to do so (Modern Family comes to mind). The important question is whether the show is actually any good. It is. Quick camera movements and a fast pace ensure that The New Normal has a very modern feel to it complementing the lack of studio audience or canned laughter. Asides to the camera from random extras give the show a quirky feel and the humour is reminiscent of New Girl. Indeed, there’s no edgy humour here, but it’s not bland

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a raspberry at such sitcoms, bringing back the laughter tracks last enjoyed in the 1980s with the likes of Allo’ Allo’ and The Good Life. These shows are an antidote to ‘now’; the jokes may be cheap, but after that long, hard day, it may be all we can afford.

either. In all The New Normal is a rather funny and unusually sweet sitcom that I am looking forward to seeing more of. The New Normal airs 9pm on Thursdays on E4.


CREATIVE WRITING

05.02.2013 concrete.creativewriting@uea.ac.uk

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themed submissions

DREAMS

The Boy with no Future

Prophetic Dreams

By Holly McDede

By Stephen Pester

My high school guidance counsellor sees my grade point average, and gags. “I didn’t know grades could be that bad,” she says. She puts my report card under a magnifying glass, hoping the numbers will get bigger. She tries turning my report card upside down, but the numbers still aren’t smiling. She calls my mother, and explains the situation: “I’m sorry, Mrs. Delaware. But we just saw your son’s grades. We’re afraid none of his dreams will come true. He doesn’t have a future. We’ve looked. Several times.” “Not even a little bit of a future?” I hear my mother say. “Not even five seconds?” “School isn’t for everyone,” my guidance counselor says. “Then again, neither is life.” When I drag myself home, there’s a bus in front of my house carrying all my hopes and dreams and an assortment of optional futures: college, arm wrestling champion, drug dealer, the world. The bus driver toots his horn. I check my watch. The future is early; it wasn’t supposed to arrive until later. You just can’t get reliable transportation anymore. I start to run but stop when I see my mother on the back seat of the bus, waving, holding my dreams like they’re her real children. I stop running. I think, What now? Then I watch now explode, letter by letter, n to o to w. Bam, zap, die. It’s gone. Now is dead, and the future has ridden away on a bus. I shrug. Oh well. There is nowhere else to go but home, and back to bed.

Your blurry-edged form Slipped into my sleeping mind But my words stumbled clumsily From me, rambling inelegantly Pushing you away Until I woke.

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When we will next meet, Flashes of these false memories Will cross through my mind, Mistakes not made – Or not yet As I feel myself stuttering At the thought of the scorn That you never show, I find myself wondering How on earth it is a surprise That I have always been alone.

For the next issue, we are looking Noah By Michelle Sewell Noah, the open-air night club, beats under the gaze of watchful stars. A fresh ocean breeze whispers through a large crowd of 20-somethings pulsating to “nossa, nossa, assim você me mata, ai se eu te pego, ai ai se eu te pego,” echoing across the neverending ocean. In the midnight moonlight a man gravitates towards a body moving amongst the shadows. The man’s hands grasp onto the red silk that covers her waist. Surprised and uncertain, she steps away, making sure to sneak a glance of his cheeky smile and intense gaze. All around is the thumping of the dancing, the sweat of the drunk, the shouts of the excited and the desire of the waiting. Simultaneously they look away. The woman’s heart pounds faster, faster, and louder, louder, shifting the man’s rhythm to hers; and she remains entranced, and held. The waking sun tinges Noah with yellow. The pair still sway, together. The girl feels a tapping at her feet, and sees a sweeper sweeping a ghosted dance floor. They smile and walk arm-in-arm towards the exit. Step. He leaves for Greece tomorrow. Step. She leaves for Morocco tomorrow. Step. He lives in New York. Step. She lives in Sydney. Step. Their eyes redden, puffen, held back tears well-up as they sink into a ripping pain, a silent grief, an unspoken love of irrational emotion. Step. They don’t exchange numbers. They don’t exchange names. They don’t exchange words. They hold but a moment’s glance. They walk towards their separate cabs, to go to sleep and then awake in their separate beds, never knowing if it was real or a wonderful, beautiful dream.

for submissions on the theme of

NATURE

Please submit all writing by

Tuesday 12th February


18

@Concrete_Gaming

www.concrete-online.co.uk

GAMING

concrete.gaming@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

Games don’t create killers, they fund them

Oliver Balaam In his post-Sandy Hook press conference, the CEO of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre condemned “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people.” It might sound like a rare moment of self reflection from a usually oblivious cretin but he was actually talking about the video-game industry. He continued by listing “violent video games with names like Bullet Storm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse” before, in a move of blinding hypocrisy, allowing the NRA to release their own first person shooter, NRA Practice Range, for ages four and up. In a move against patient-confidentiality and civil liberty, La Pierre also demanded “a national database of the mentally ill”, presumably for target practice. He did this despite the fact that therapists are already required to report anyone who makes a credible threat, and warn any possible targets. In short, Wayne LaPierre is an old, ableist, culturally-conservative dinosaur. It’s very easy to mock the NRA and their puritanical approach to videogames, but it’s more difficult to come to terms with the fact that, as a game consumer, you’ve almost definitely funded them. There’s a reason that the NRA always criticise the same four or five games, and it’s not because the last time they touched one was in an 80s video arcade. It’s because Grand Theft Auto, Bulletstorm et al don’t pay gun-manufacturers licensing fees, instead they simply invent their own weapons. Call of Duty and Battlefield on the other hand, pay handsome sums to

Tilly Wood

bloody handed arms manufacturers in order to maintain a competitive level of authenticity. “Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price [of the game]”, an arms manufacturer representative recently told Eurogamer. “Video games expose our brand to a young audience who are considered possible future owners.”

Game publishers are decidedly less forthcoming. EA, Sony, Codemasters and Crytek have all repeatedly declined to comment on the practice. An Activision representative declined and added “My hands are tied” while Sega remarked that “[This request] doesn’t sit comfortably.” It’s not just arms manufacturers and the NRA that receive a cut of the billions of

Weapon licensing is so lucrative that firms such as Cybergun, exist predominantly broker deals between content publishers and gun manufacturers. A Cybergun representative once remarked: “We definitely see sales of particular guns increase when they are featured in popular video games, such as Call of Duty.”

dollars spent on modern military shooters each year, war criminals and mercenaries also get theirs. Last year Activision hired Oliver North, a Colonel heavily implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, to consult on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 while EA, chasing Activision’s market share, decided they should consult with private military

contractors. Elsewhere the United States military contractor formerly known as Blackwater (they changed their name to Academi to distance themselves from numerous accusations they later settled out of court) released a Kinect based shooter in order to improve their public image. Unsurprisingly, given the imprecision of motion controlled action games, the game was practically a war crime itself. As game consumers and critics, if we fall into the simple trap of aggressively criticising the NRA, we prove them right in their eyes and in the eyes of lawmakers. We must instead take a self-critical look inwards and do what we can to stop funding gun manufacturers while urging publishers and developers to do the same. These changes can be as simple as using a gun’s model number but not it’s brand name, a practice used by Codemasters to avoid licencing fees in their Operation Flashpoint games. One also hopes that the industry could stop relying on fire-arms as their primary method of interaction and crafts new genres and player perspectives in the process. Given the persistence of the gun as a practical tool even in inventive nonviolent titles like Portal and Anti-Chamber however, this eventuality looks to be a long way off. For the timebeing gamers and publishers needn’t stoop to the level of the sensationalists at the NRA but instead, show that games are a diverse, fast growing, and maturing medium that will outlive their dying, violent world view.

Review: Temple Run 2 Temple Run 2, recently released for free on Android and iOS, is the anticipated sequel to the irritatingly addictive Temple Run. It’s a fast paced, infinite runner game that asks players to steer around a twisted, abandoned temple and a new mine cart track. Along the way the aim is to collect coins and power ups which help boost your score. Thankfully Temple Run 2 hasn’t made any changes to the responsive swipe and tilt mechanisms employed in the last game, which easily allow you to throw your adventurer around corners and over obstacles. Both games offer a choice of different characters. However, unlike its predecessor, Temple Run 2’s four characters impact the game by unlocking different power ups for the player. During each game,

collecting coins fills up the power bar. When it’s full, the player can double tap to take advantage of a speed boost, coin magnet, a shield and more. Temple Run was the perfect game for casual gamers with a minute or two to spare. However, the addition of the new gem currency allows players to spend gems to carry on playing after dying, without returning to the beginning. This means that although the gems are relatively rare, games last longer, and although average player scores are higher, those who can afford to buy gems in bulk from Imangi dominate the high scoreboards. An annoying oversight is that objectives can only be completed when they are displayed as one of your current three.

Therefore you will sometimes be set objectives such as “run 5,000m” although it’s already been achieved. Considering some of the most difficult objectives include “score 10,000,000 points,” it’s something that could use patching. The game’s vastly improved 3D graphics and lighting does result in some texture pop-in, even on high-end devices, and this sometimes makes it difficult to anticipate obstacles in your path, even more so the faster you’re moving. Imangi have been clever to not meddle with the simple design which made their first game a raging success but their improvements to graphics are a welcome upgrade. Despite some issues, Temple Run 2 is still a game that everybody will enjoy.


GAMING

05.02.2013 concrete.gaming@uea.ac.uk

www.concrete-online.co.uk

Preview: Crysis 3

@Concrete_Gaming

19

Sam Emsley The Crysis series has always been known for its demanding graphical capabilities rather than its gameplay and with Crysis 3 promising to “melt down PCs”, this trend looks to continue. A multiplayer beta was recently released for both consoles and PC so that players could experience what the new game has to offer in this department, but it’s immediately evident that Crytek should spend more time on gameplay than lighting and motion blur. A few hours with the multiplayer reveals a painfully mediocre experience. There’s a frustrating feeling that something interesting could be achieved with the game’s undeniably solid shooting mechanics if more time had been spent considering map design and game-modes and polishing the unreliable net code. Hunter mode, where underpowered CELL operatives must survive being stalked by invisible, super-powered Hunters, strives for tension but settles for tedium. Every round is a glorified game of hide-and-seek where the CELL operatives retreat to the most obscure corner of the map and camp there, aiming at the doorway for two minutes, or until a Hunter runs through. Anybody

attempting to deviate from this tactic will find themselves swiftly dispatched by the Hunters who, thanks to graphical adjustments since Crysis 2, are now impossible to see. CELL operatives are given a proximity alarm but instead of creating tense scenarios like the proximity sensor scene in Aliens, most of the time it just emits a strained bleep to let you know when you’re going to die. In its current state it is borderline unplayable. Crash Site is a Headquarters inspired game-type where players must capture alien pods that fall onto the map, and hold them to win the game. In design terms this actually works well, however more glaring faults soon emerge. The biggest problem is frame rate lag on PC, which can be atrocious at times. Even running modest specs on a high-end PC the lag is unbearable and this will regularly get you killed. Weapon balancing is also an issue and, coupled with erratic net code, it is almost impossible to anticipate the effect pulling the trigger will have on you or your enemies. Furthermore, the pitiful elbow melee is a one hit kill, which is absurd as you’re lucky to get a one hit kill

Why not volunteer? Each year in February, the UEA Volunteering Fair welcomes between 30 to 40 local charities and not-for-profit organisations who are seeking to recruit student volunteers. Volunteering is becoming increasingly popular, as the skills you learn – such as communication, leadership and time management – can help you in later life, as well as enabling you to make a valuable contribution to society. This year, a diverse mix of organisations will be attending the Fair, which will be held in the LCR, Union House, from 11am-3pm on Tuesday 12 February. The range of exhibitors this year includes those involved in ethical issues; social support; arts and the media; the environment and conservation; legal issues; health; youth work; and education. Some are regular visitors – for example, Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Guide Dogs, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norfolk Scouts, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Railway Children, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). But there are many others too. The Fair is your chance to talk to representatives of the organisations and see how you can make a contribution. You

with a shotgun from the same distance. Environments are also filled with physics objects and makeshift weapons such as cars and lamp posts. In theory these provide entertaining, inventive ways to crush and smite your enemies but in practice they rarely have the desired effect, stopping short of their target or snagging on cluttered geometry. These issues are also present on consoles but as the graphics and physics have been watered down so much to get the game running on these machines, there isn’t even much spectacle to distract from the technical and design deficiencies. The Crysis 3 beta contains a myriad of faults and is a poor attempt at an FPS multiplayer in an already crowded marketplace. There are free to play games that vastly exceed this £40 car-crash. The game looks spectacular, but this does not even begin to make up for the terrible gameplay. The campaign could still be a lot of fun as many of these faults are caused by atrocious net code and unfortunate technical compromises to get the game working online, but the multiplayer simply isn’t worth your time.

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could be helping to manage the charity, dealing with accounts, fundraising or marketing; or you could befriend an elderly person, someone with learning difficulties or children with disabilities. There are also opportunities to work outside in conservation and community gardening schemes, with wildlife or in animal sanctuaries. Education and administrative roles with arts centres, museums and galleries are also available; and supporting refugees and recently arrived migrants is a popular choice. Many organisations offer training; and some have qualifications you can gain while you volunteer. All this experience will be useful later in life and you can be sure that most employers recognise and value volunteering as being equal to paid work experience. In fact, giving up your free time to do some useful work which serves the community says a lot about the type of person you are. All volunteers will be eligible for UEA Volunteer Awards at the end of each academic year. The Union of UEA Students and UEA Volunteers have log books which you can collect once you have started volunteering to record your hours.

Volunteering can be lots of fun, as well as a meaningful way to spend your time. You can meet new people from the local community, form part of a team within the organisation, take responsibility, enjoy new experiences and discover new opportunities in life. Come along and find out more!

To find out more about the Volunteering Fair, visit employability.uea.ac.uk/events. Volunteering opportunities are advertised at employability.uea.ac.uk. Further Careers & Employability information can be found at uea.ac.uk/ careers.


20

@concrete_arts

www.concrete-online.co.uk

ARTS

concrete.arts@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

PREVIEW: CABARET: A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS

Hatty Farnham

Chloe Hashemi Next week the drama studio will host this year’s production of Cabaret: A Night at the Musicals. The Cabaret cast have been rehearsing hard alongside their academic commitments for six weeks to bring a night of all-singing, all-dancing musical entertainment to raise money for their chosen charities. “This year it’s all about the kids,” director Jon Cobb tells Venue, “the production will be fundraising for ACODO (Assisting Cambodian

Orphans and the Disabled Organization) and the Elimu foundation.” Both charities are holistic nonprofit organisations which work with children and their communities to support education, health care and shelter. “Cabaret is about making people happy, and it’s a win-win”, says Jon, “it’s an opportunity to make a better world for those who aren’t as fortunate as ourselves, and it provides an evening

of entertainment for our audience in Norwich.” “We enjoy it too!” adds dance choreographer Rachel Moss. The cast is made up of 20 singerdancers and five dancers, and they will be performing a whopping 24 songs on the night. Each year the Cabaret cast keep their programme under wraps, but this year their publicity material is made up of six clues as to the numbers they will be performing on the night.

Intriguing, isn’t it? The performances are at 7.30 on the 14- 16 of February. You can’t buy tickets because it is a charity event, but will be asked to make a donation on the evening. All money raised will go straight to ACODO and the Elimu foundation, and the cast guarantee you will have a fun-filled evening. “Bring your friends, family and loose-change, and we defy you not to sing-along!” says Rachel.

INTERVIEW: Lorna Mackinnon talks to Ashley Stokes, Creative Writing lecturer and head of Unthank Books Lorna: What inspired you to write The Syllabus of Errors? Ashley: No one experience or idea in particular inspired the collection. After I finished my novel Touching the Starfish I worked on a few short stories I’d sketched during the novel’s composition and enjoyed writing pieces I could complete quickly. I certainly wasn’t thinking of a collection, let alone a sequence at this point. After three stories I tried to start a novel but couldn’t get started, so wrote a few more shorts, by which time they started to accumulate. However, the stories were partly inspired by a visit to Berlin; when I was a teenager I’d been obsessed both with the city and the whole history of central Europe between the wars. It was also informed by a feeling that some of the neurotic visions that beset Europe in the

twenties are revisiting us now.

shed novel.

Lorna: Which story in the collection is your favourite, and why?

Lorna: Who are your favourite authors?

Ashley: ‘Abyssinia’ is my favourite. Inspired by Robert Stone’s story ‘Coping’, I wanted to write about someone coming spectacularly off the rails to see if I could bring him back from the brink. If I think about The Syllabus, ‘Abyssinia’ is the story that seems the most indicative to me, the most emotional. I may have come closest here to saying what I mean. Lorna: How has UEA inspired your writing career? Ashley: Teaching evening classes in Adult Ed for five years informed rather than inspired Touching the Starfish, my campus

Ashley: Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Yates, JG Ballard, Kafka, Philip Roth, James Lasdun, Josef Skvorecky, David Foster Wallace, Patricia Highsmith and David Rose. Lorna: Do you have any advice for people who would like to pursue a career in creative writing? Ashley: Write what only you could write. Don’t expect anyone to like you for it. Don’t grow a goatee beard. Talk to strangers. Ignore fashions. Fear the winter. Lorna: How can people become involved with Unthank Books?

Ashley: Unthank Books does have a partnership with the careers service at UEA, so in the first instance, contact Justine Mann if you want to work on marketing a novel or Unthology. Anyone with design or IT ideas should contact the publisher, Robin Jones on information@ unthankbooks.com. Ashley Stokes is a Creative Writing Lecturer for UEA. His latest collection, The Syllabus of Errors, will be available to buy from 14th February. Join us at The Bicycle Shop on Thursday 21st February, from 7.30-9.30pm for the launch. Book signings with the author, hear readings from the book, and meet the Unthank team! For more information, visit www. unthankbooks.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.


ARTS

05.02.2013 concrete.arts@uea.ac.uk

www.concrete-online.co.uk

@concrete_arts

REVIEW:

21

ASYE TARY’S SHACKLED Joanna Thompson Shackled is the play that won Ayse Tary the Minotaur creative writing competition last year. She describes it as a play that “doesn’t feel sorry for itself ” which, considering that the protagonist is criminally convicted, terminally ill, and spends almost the entire performance bedridden and chained, initially seems ambitious. The premise doesn’t advertise an uplifting evening but despite its focus on cancer, broken families and incarceration, Shackled manages to be funny. It’s touching, relatable and above all, honest. This play knows better than to romanticise death or treat it flippantly, instead putting the emphasis onto Harry Barker’s character in his last few weeks, and the significance of the people at his bedside. The play opens with Harry Barker and William Rigby on stage and, for the next hour and a half, they barely leave it. Harry (Harry Smith) lies in a hospital bed and William (Michael Clarke) sits a few feet away. The pair seem uncomfortable, but their proximity is unavoidable; handcuffs and a five foot chain connect them. The men fidget, a quiet nervousness unfolding which soon infects the audience and prompts laughter every time awkward eye contact is made and polite (albeit suspicious) smiles are exchanged. Both characters are likeable. Smith plays Harry as a London lad, giving the role realistic maturity as well as a

Jerusha Green

great, boisterous energy. Rigby (Clarke) is the younger and, as Harry points out, he doesn’t really look like a prison guard. Their relationship carries the plot and Clarke and Smith give fantastic performances, maintaining energy in a situation that could easily become static. The bustle of the other characters boosts this pace. Tina Baston plays Harry’s ex-spouse, shepherding in his kids with constant exasperation and a lovely reserved sense of protective affection. Sam Day and Susannah Martin portrayed the children’s ages very convincingly, and the roles of the doctor, nurse and governor (Jonathan Moss, Jess Boyes and Will Berry) were coolly and precisely performed, the characters believable and never overstated. The entire cast and crew were unfalteringly professional, the unexpected power cut during Friday’s show perturbing no one. The play is certainly powerful, a fresh and sincere portrayal of cancer, but it somewhat breezes past Harry’s status as a convict. His crime is never divulged to the audience and any issues of conscience (or resentment of a false accusation) are neglected. There’s a niggling feeling that the handcuffs serve principally as a plot device to justify Rigby’s presence. Regardless, the cast were excellent, the direction was neat and effective and the Cancer Research donation buckets outside were generously met. On leaving the theatre, it felt like a worthy cause and an evening well spent.

Jerusha Green

REVIEW: WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF

Callum Graham

Absurdism, dissolution, illusion, truth and power are all prominent themes brilliantly addressed in the Minotaur Theatre Company’s sharply humorous performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The excellence of the performance was made all the more astounding when co-directors Grace Church and Lucy Mangan admitted that they had only been fully rehearsing for a little over two weeks. All I can say is that something special must have happened during those weeks, as the result was one of those rare occasions when the acting, direction and staging all came together seamlessly for a near-flawless performance. James Franco look-alike and drama student, Ed Jones, gave a slick and stylish take on his character Nick, delighting the audience with a character that was as smarmily smooth as he was driven by ambition. Molly McGeachin received as many laughs as she did tears of sympathy for her heartfelt portrayal of Honey (wife of Nick), a delicate character who seemed to be poised on the verge of a great fall. For many, the success or failure of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf lies in the booze-fuelled relationship of Martha and George, a late-middle aged couple who’s

relentlessly cruel “games” are revealed as a device to hide deeper wounds. On this count, Anna Chessher’s Martha and George Ronayne’s George were perfect. Their tragicomic domestic battles swung violently between hilarity and intensely difficult moments when Martha would seek George’s deepest vulnerabilities and expose them in games such as “Humiliate the Host”. George Ronayne received the loudest laughs with his skilfully sharp comic timing and delivery. Like every character, however, his vices and vulnerabilities were exposed throughout the three acts. As the play came to a close, Ronayne’s George was altogether more human and endearing than the cynically-sarcastic George of the first act. Martha also undertook a similar transformation. From the dominating hostess, captured through Chessher’s impressive stage presence, to her staggeringly emotional performance as the play ended, her skill allowed her to perform both roles convincingly. The drama studio itself had been transformed in the living room of Martha and George, with personal touches and details that made the audience feel as though we were truly were entering into the lives of the characters on stage.


22

LISTINGS

www.concrete-online.co.uk

concrete.listings@uea.ac.uk 05.02.2013

ON CAMPUS

happening this fortnight Christian Union Event Week Tuesday 29 January, 7.30pm

UEA’s Christian Union are proud to present their annual Events week – packed to the brim with music, discussions and waffles. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Christianity, to discuss deeper issues or simply to know what all the fuss was about then this week is for you. Each day from 12-1pm there will be a Waffle Bar held in the Blue Bar. Come for a free waffle and a discussion on Christianity; topics range from “Who is the perfect Christian?” to “What is wrong with the Church?”. Turn up armed with your questions and an open mind for a

discussion guaranteed to make you think. Then, every evening, there will be a host of different events. The week will kick off with an acoustic night, guaranteeing a chilled evening of music interspersed with people’s stories. The midpoint of the week will be an open forum for any and every question; this is no place to hold back. Thursday will be a straight up Gospel talk – do you really know what Christians believe or do you just think you do? And to round the week off, the Friday evening will kick off the start of the Alpha course. Alpha is an introductory course to Christianity; there is food, a short talk and a discussion. There is no pressure or charge. If you’ve given up on God, if you’re bored of the church or if you’re just plain curious then Alpha is for you. Events week will run in week five., with all evening events kicking off at 7.30pm. For more details find the Christian Union on Facebook at facebook.com/ UeaChristianUnion or ring Nathan on 07543484329.

South East Asian Society & Malaysian Society

Chinese New Year Dinner Saturday 9 February, 7pm

The South East Asian Society and Malaysian Society are holding a Chinese New Year event at Congregation Hall 01.19 to welcome in the Year of the Snake. This falls on the Eve of the Spring Festival and coincides with the annual Reunion Dinner. The night will include a huge dinner consisting of traditional home-cooked Chinese dishes and several games afterwards. Chinese New Year is the most

significant cultural festival in the Chinese calendar. It is a time to celebrate new beginnings, happiness, prosperity and good fortune. Tickets cost £10 per person or £88 for a table of 10, and are on sale at the Hive and INTO on Wednesday and Friday (6 and 8 January) from 11am to 3pm. For more details, find the event page on Facebook.

Go Green Week Art Competition Deadline Friday 8 February The Union is calling all creative minded students to get busy painting, filming, photographing, writing and performing for Go Green Week 2013. All competition finalists will have their work exhibited in the union for the duration of Go Green Week. Competition

details are being finalised and prizes tbc. Go Green Week is happening on the 11 - 17 February. To submit your entries, and for all other enquiries, please email union.environment@uea.ac.uk, or you can submit a physical copy of your work to the Student Officer Centre.


LISTINGS

05.02.2013 concrete.listings@uea.ac.uk

23

www.concrete-online.co.uk

5 February - 18 February Gigs

Drama and Comedy Theatre

8 February The Kerrang! Tour 2013 feat. Black Veil Brides, Chiodos, Tonight Alive, Fearless Vampire Killers Price £16.50 6.30pm UEA LCR

7 February Schicklgruber alias Adolf Hitler– Manipulate Festival Price £13/£10 Conc. 7.30pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

Frightened Rabbit w/Washington Irving and Wintersleep Price £12.50 6.30pm The Waterfront

8 February To the End of Love – Manipulate Festival Price £13/£10 Conc. 7.30pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

9 February

9 February Big Man Japan – Manipulate Festival Price £7.50/£6 Conc. 9pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

Funeral for a Friend Price £14 6.30pm The Waterfront Little Feat Price £28.50 7pm UEA LCR Modestep Price £12 7.30pm The Waterfront

10 February

11 February

15 February NME Awards Tour 2013 feat. Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets, Peace Price £19.10 7pm UEA LCR 16 February The BIG C presents KILLAMONJAMBO + KEEP IT SECRET + T BONE & THE HORN + THE SEPIATONES Price £5 7pm The Waterfront

Club Nights

Comedy Tom Stade Totally Rocks Price £15.50 8pm The Playhouse

8 February

9 February Katherine Ryan: Nature’s Candy Price £12/£10 Conc. 8pm The Playhouse 14 -15 February Henning Wehn: Henning Knows Best Price £12.50 8pm The Playhouse Jerry Sadowitz Price £18.50 8.30pm Norwich Arts Centre

999 LCR Price £3.50 10pm UEA LCR Non-Stop 90s + ALT 90s Price £4.50/£3.50 NUS 10pm The Waterfront Meltdown + Britpoppin Price £4.50/£3.50 NUS 10pm The Waterfront

Miscellaneous 5 February Lee Child Price £7 7pm UEA Literary Events 8 February

Fast Film, Slow Burn: Uncommon Singularity – Manipulate Festival Price £7/£6 Conc. 7.45pm Norwich Puppet Theatre

9 February

12 February LGBT History Month Presents Dr B.J. Epstein: Let It Out, Boy - LGBTQ Teenagers and Sex in Young Adult Literature Price Free 7pm ARTS 2.02

A List Price £4.50 10pm UEA LCR Traffic Light Party LCR Price £3.50 10pm UEA LCR Meltdown + Metal Lust Price £4.50/£3.50 LCR 10pm The Waterfront

6 February

12 February

16 February

GOT SOMETHING TO TELL UEA ABOUT? If you’ve got a Society or oncampus event that you’d like to share, get in touch: concrete.listings@uea.ac.uk

A List Price £4.50 10pm UEA LCR

16 February

Photo: Virginie Lassarre


COMPETITIONS concrete.competitions@uea.ac.uk

www.concrete-online.co.uk

05.02.2013

the venue crossword 1

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across 4. Western film starring Jamie Foxx (6, 9) 8. Patron Saint of chefs and comedians (8) 11. Subatomic particle with negative charge (8) 13. Performer of American national anthem (7) 16. Often sleepy marsupial (5) 17. Two-headed Roman god (5)

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down 1. Common bird – sometimes excellent navigator (6) 2. Author of The Aeneid (6) 3. World’s smallest country (7,4) 5. Hot drink obtained from seeds (6) 6. The sword in the stone (9) 7. Battle which lent its name to an Olympic event (8) 9. Founder of Wikileaks -Surname (7) 10. Creator of the Famous Five -Surname (6) 12. Combustible rock (4) 13. Soft French cheese (4) 14. Water suspended high in the air (6) 15. Dr Watson’s first name (4)

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Venue - Issue 279 - 5 February 2013  

Featuring the end of HMV and the rise of vinyl.

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